Awakin Democracy Circles

Awakin Democracy Circles are monthly gatherings via zoom. Seeking to tap into the wisdom of the heart, we sit in silence for 30 minutes and then have a circle of sharing prompted by a short passage or focal piece.  Gatherings are 75 minutes. Focal pieces are below.

Awakin Circles, an initiative of ServiceSpace, began in a living room in Silicon Valley in 1996 with three people who came together to sit in silence, sharing, and community. There are now hundreds of Awakin Circles on a wide range of topics hosted by people worldwide. To learn more about Awakin Democracy Circles, contact:

CIRCLE ONE — Granny D, You’re Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell (excerpts) 

Doris Haddock, lovingly referred to as ‘Granny D’, waited until her 90th year to enter the national spotlight. In 1999 she undertook an audacious walk across the United States for campaign finance reform. The tale of her life and this amazing journey is told in her book, Granny D, You’re Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell.
  • “Never be discouraged from being an activist because people tell you that you’ll not succeed. You have already succeeded if you are out there representing truth and justice or compassion or fairness or love. You already have your victory because you have changed the world, you have changed the status quo by you, you have changed the chemistry of things. And changes will spread from you, will be easier to happen again in others because of you, because believe it or not, you are the center of the world.”
  • “It is said democracy is not something we have but something we do. But right now we cannot do it because we cannot speak. We are shouted down by the bull horns of big money. It is money with no manners for democracy, and it must be escorted from the room.”“It is said democracy is not something we have but something we do. But right now we cannot do it because we cannot speak. We are shouted down by the bull horns of big money. It is money with no manners for democracy, and it must be escorted from the room.”
  • [from speech on steps of Congress after completing her trans-continental walk] “While we are here to speak frankly to our representatives, let us also speak frankly to ourselves….If we are hypnotized by television and overwrought by life on a corporate-consumer treadmill, let us snap out of it and regain our lives as free, calm, fearlessly outspoken people who have time for each other and our communities.”
  • “We have a duty to look after each other. If we lose control of our government, then we lose our ability to dispense justice and human kindness. Our first priority today, then, is to defeat utterly those forces of greed and corruption that have come between us and our self-governance.”
  • “There are two kinds of politics in the world: the politics of love and the politics of fear. Let us choose life and love, and happily use ourselves up in loving service to one another.”
  • “In this generation the fate of our natural environment and of our democratic environment will be decided. Only great leadership and great love can get us through the times ahead. We must all take part in this great drama. It is more than politics, it is a struggle for the soul and it is exquisitely personal to each of us.”

Read more about Granny D

CIRCLE TWO —The Open Space of Democracy by Terry Tempest Williams (excerpt from last chapter) 

“In our increasingly fundamentalist country we have to remember what is fundamental. Gravity – what draws us to a place and keeps us there. Like love, like kinship. 
When we commit to a particular place a certain element of choice is removed. We are free to dig in and allow ourselves to be mentored by the life around us. We begin to see the world whole instead of fractured. Long term strategies replace short term gains. Routine opens the door to creativity. We express ourselves. We inform one another and become an educated public that responds.It is easy to believe that we the people have no say. That the power in Washington will roll over our local on the ground concerns with their corporate energy ties.  It is easy to believe that the American will is only focused on how to get rich, how to be entertained, how to distract it from the hard choices we have before us as a nation. I refuse to believe this. The only space I see truly being capable of being closed is not the land or our civil liberties, but our own hearts.
The human heart is the first home of democracy.  It is where we embrace our questions: can we be equitable?  Can we be generous?  Can we listen with our whole being, not just our minds; and, offer our attention rather than our opinions? And do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously, relentlessly, without giving up ever, trusting our fellow citizens to join with us in our determined pursuit of a living democracy?
The heart is the house of empathy whose door opens when we receive the pain of others. This is where bravery lives, where we find our metal to give and receive; to love and be loved; to stand in the center of uncertainty with strength not fear, understanding this is all there is.The heart is the path to wisdom because it dares to be vulnerable in the presence of power. Our power lies in our love of our homeland.Democracy depends on engagement. A firsthand accounting of what one sees, what one feels, and what one thinks and followed by the artful practice of expressing the truth of our times through our own talents, gifts and vocation. Question, stand, speak, act.  We have a history of bravery in this nation and we must call it forward now. Our future is guaranteed only by the degree of our personal involvement and commitment to an inclusive justice.”
Read more: The Open Space of Democracy

CIRCLE THREE — Across That Bridge by John Lewis (excerpts) 

“Faith is being so sure of what the spirit has whispered in your heart that your belief in its eventuality is unshakable. Nothing can make you doubt that what you have heard will become a reality. Even if you do not live to see it come to pass, you know without one doubt that it will be. That is faith.”
“Why must we, as members of the human family, immerse ourselves in the agency of turmoil and unrest to affect the evolution of humankind? Why participate in the work of justice at all? Each of us must answer these questions according to the dictates of our conscience and the principles of our faith. I believe that we are all a spark of the divine, and if that spark is nurtured it can become a burning flame…I believe that the true destiny of humankind is to recollect that it is light and learn how to abide in infinite awareness of the divine in all matters of human affairs.”
“Thus the true mission of our work in government and through community action is to help free humanity to follow this high calling. That is, in essence what the Founders of this nation wrote within the heart of the Constitution, that government must not impede the divine right of human beings to be guided by the whisperings of their own souls, to seek the path that magnifies, actualizes and incarnates the beauty of their individual flames.”
“As we marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, that lonely 600 joined with a host of unseen holy witnesses that marched with us. Though we were rejected, condemned by mankind, shunted off into some dark corner, we remembered our inner worth, and we began to shine. All we needed was the courage to march to demonstrate the power of human dignity, and the spirit that is within all of us did the rest. Because we chose to emerge from the oppression of darkness, our sacrifice helped to usher in a great transformation.”
“As a child born on the dark side of the American dream, I heard the whispers of spirit calling me to wrestle with the soul of a nation. I could see a higher vision of what this nation could be, and I can say to every leader who might be entangled in the web of the status quo that when the people are ready, this nation will change. Whenever the people finally reject the efforts to fragment their collective energies into warring factions and remember their divine union with one another, when they throw off material distractions and irrelevant negativity and hear their souls speak with one voice, they will rise up.”
Read more: Across That Bridge

CIRCLE FOUR — Being in Right Relationship by Parker J. Palmer (excerpts) 

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, 30 percent of the delegates walked out without signing the thing — and those who did sign disagreed so fundamentally that they were forced to create a conflict-holding system of government.
In fact, they created the first form of government that treats conflict not as the enemy of a good social order but as the engine of a better social order. Conflict can be creative, and we have to recover that sensibility. … When I ask people to talk about politics on the state or national level, they say everything’s going to hell in a handbasket. But when I ask, “What’s going on in the part of the world within your reach?” the response is more promising. The venues in which we live our lives — families, neighborhoods, classrooms, congregations and voluntary associations — create the vital infrastructure of democracy.  In these settings we can develop democratic “habits of the heart” that can help us reclaim our sense of “We the People.”…
Beginning a conversation with loves and doubts rather than political ideologies opens a new door to dialogue, driven by story-telling rather than political point scoring. … People have a harder time dismissing or demonizing each other politically when they know a bit of each other’s personal stories.
A while back, I was talking with a business lobbyist. He was arguing that business has no responsibilities to anyone except investors and stockholders. Eventually, he turned to me: “So what’s your position on that?” My inner response was, “I disagree with you totally,” but I didn’t think that kind of argument would be fruitful. So I said, “Let me tell you a story. My dad came to Chicago from Iowa in the Great Depression — 19 years old, from a blue collar family, with a high school diploma. He got a temporary bookkeeping job with a firm that sold chinaware and silverware to hotels, restaurants and railroads, later airlines. Eventually, he was hired as a salesman, and 50 years later he was owner and chairman of the board of E.A. Heinrichs and Co.“
Dad was deeply grateful to a society that had allowed him to fulfill some dreams, and he believed in using his company to give others a leg up whenever possible. So he sometimes hired people who weren’t the best and the brightest but had potential. One was a truck driver named Dusty who often made trouble with late deliveries, traffic tickets, etc. I heard a lot of stories about Dusty, his latest screw up, and what Dad was trying to teach him. One night when I was 14 years old, after yet another story, I said, ‘Dad, why don’t you fire the guy? He causes so much trouble.’ My father looked shocked and said, sternly, ‘But Park, the man has a wife and three children. Where else would he get a job?’ So that is why I believe that business has a responsibility to folks beyond investors and stockholders. For my Dad, doing well in business and doing good in the world through his business went hand in hand. That’s why I believe what I believe.”
There was a moment of silence. Then my conversation partner said, very quietly, “Well, of course, that’s true.” I don’t know what happened inside him. What I do know is that I helped create a “safe space” for ongoing dialogue with that story.
To renew “We the People” we need lots of safe spaces where people can talk across lines of political division. We need to learn that, in the long run, it’s more important to be in ‘right relationship’ than to be right.

CIRCLE FIVE — The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman 

Poem recited for the Inauguration of Joe Biden, President of the United States, Jan. 20, 2021

When day comes we ask ourselves,

Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry,

A sea we must wade

We’ve braved the belly of the beast

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace

And the norms and notionsOf what just is

Isn’t always just-ice

And yet the dawn is ours

Before we knew it

Somehow we do it

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed

A nation that isn’t broken

But simply unfinished

We the successors of a country and a time

Where a skinny Black girl

Descended from slaves and raised by a single mother

Can dream of becoming president

Only to find herself reciting for one

And yes we are far from polished

Far from pristine

But that doesn’t mean we are

Striving to form a union that is perfect

We are striving to forge a union with purpose

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and

Conditions of man

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us

But what stands before us

We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,

We must first put our differences aside

We lay down our arms

So we can reach out our arms

To one another

We seek harm to none and harmony for all

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:

That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried

That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious

Not because we will never again know defeat

But because we will never again sow division

Scripture tells us to envision

That everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree

And no one shall make them afraid

If we’re to live up to our own time

Then victory won’t lie in the blade

But in all the bridges we’ve made

That is the promise to glade

The hill we climb

If only we dare

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,

It’s the past we step into

And how we repair it

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation

Rather than share it

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy

And this effort very nearly succeeded

But while democracy can be periodically delayed

it can never be permanently defeated

In this truth

in this faith we trust

For while we have our eyes on the future

History has its eyes on us

This is the era of just redemption

We feared at its inception

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs

Of such a terrifying hour

But within it we found the power

To author a new chapter

To offer hope and laughter to ourselves

So while once we asked,

How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?

Now we assert

How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was

But move to what shall be

A country that is bruised but whole,

Benevolent but bold,

Fierce and free

We will not be turned around

Or interrupted by intimidation

Because we know our inaction and inertia

Will be the inheritance of the next generation

Our blunders become their burdens

But one thing is certain:

If we merge mercy with might,

And might with right,

Then love becomes our legacy

And change our children’s birthright

So let us leave behind a country

Better than the one we were left with

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,

We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,

We will rise from the windswept northeast

Where our forefathers first realized revolution

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the mid-western states,

We will rise from the sunbaked south

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover

And every known nook of our nation and

Every corner called our country,

Our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

Battered and beautiful

When day comes we step out of the shade,

Aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

If only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it

Read more: The Hill We Climb

CIRCLE SIX — The Democracy! Suite by Wynton Marsalis 

“Jazz music begins to explain to you what it means to be an American. Which is that it’s a process. And democracy is a process.… Jazz believes in freedom of expression. But it also believes in people communicating with each other.… You have eight musicians and there’s written music but then you leave the score and are left to take intelligent decisions — decisions that have soul. Decisions that allow your personality to breathe, too. You are always negotiating and so you have that question of integrity, the intent, the will to play together. That is what jazz music is. So you have yourself, your individual expression — then you have to figure out how to fit in with everybody else. And that’s exactly like democracy.”  — Excerpt from JAZZ, A History of America’s Music, by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns
“In-person and over the multitudes of media outlets, I listen closely to the diversity of music in various protests. There are so many unconventional, grooving beats accompanying the profuse slogans and chants and…always people with tambourines. Where do all of these tambourines come from? This movement is recognition of folks, them and us, getting out and gettin’ down for our beliefs, rights, and responsibilities.”  — Wynton Marsalis
“Jazz music is the perfect metaphor for democracy. We improvise, which is our individual rights and freedoms; we swing, which means we are responsible to nurture the common good, with everyone in fine balance; and we play the blues, which means no matter how bad things get, we remain optimistic while still mindful of problems.” — Wynton Marsalis
About The Democracy! Suite:  At a time when America — and indeed, the whole world — finds itself at a crossroads, the Pulitzer Prize–winning composer has been inspired to write a poignant and buoyant work, The Democracy! Suite, which proves that the joy and beauty of jazz can bring us all closer together. Recorded live in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room during the Covid-19 lockdown, the work is irresistible and irrepressible. “The question that confronts us right now as a nation is, ‘Do we want to find a better way?’ ” Marsalis says. The music of The Democracy! Suite may be instrumental, but it speaks for itself, urging us on to action — to get out of our seats and fight for the world we believe in.
Listen: Deeper than Dreams, The Democracy! Suite

CIRCLE SEVEN — Out of Many, One — Eric Whitacre Choir: Sing Gently 

  • “Up there you go around every hour and a half, time after time after time. You look down there and you can’t imagine how many borders and boundaries you cross, again and again and again, and you don’t even see them. When you go around the Earth in an hour and a half, you begin to recognize your identity is with the whole thing. And that makes a change. And from where you see it…the Earth is a whole, and it’s so beautiful. You wish you could take a person in each hand, one from each side of the various conflicts and say, “Look. Look at it from this perspective. Look at that. What’s important?”— Rusty Schweickart, astronaut
  • “Democracy is faith in humanity, not faith in “poor” people or “ignorant” people, but faith in every living soul…champions of democracy are not looking to raise anyone up, they recognize that all [people] must face one another squarely with the knowledge that the give and take between us is equal.”— Mary Parker Follett, visionary
  • “If civilizations are to survive, we must cultivate the sciences of human relationships – the ability of all people, of all kinds, to live together, to work together in the same world at peace. The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”— Franklin Delano Roosevelt, U.S. President (1933-1945)
Sing Gently (lyrics)
May we sing together, always
May our voice be soft
May our singing be music for others
And may it keep others aloftSing, sing gently, always
Sing, sing as one (as one)May we stand (may we stand) together, always
May our voice be strong
May we hear the singing and
May we always sing along (along)Sing, sing gently, always
Sing, sing as one (as one)
Eric Whitacre Choir: Sing Gently

CIRCLE EIGHT — Power of Personal Engagement — In Our Own Way 

What follows is an excerpt from a story Terry Tempest Williams relates in her book, Open Space of Democracy, about a magical event she attended in Tuscany. Williams says, “I wrote this account because I believe it speaks to the power of personal engagement and how we can participate in the open space of democracy, each one in our own way, with our own gifts”:
We knocked on the door and waited. Sandro Bennini, the baker in the village, had invited us to dinner. Sandro opened the door and with a wide sweeping gesture of his hand welcomed us inside. In an instant we could see that all of the furniture had been moved out of the living room and replaced with an enormous square table lavishly set for 40 people, 10 on each side. Two three-tier bronze candelabra were lit casting shadows on a centerpiece of a stuffed rooster, grape leaves, figs, pomegranates, and mushrooms, all familiar to a Tuscan household. …The house filled with guests, stunned by the elaborate celebration. …
Welcome my friends,“ Sandro said. “I invite you to sit down at this Table of Peace. With the heart anything is possible.” He smiled and then said, “Tonight I share with you my gifts of bread and song.”  And then, with both hands extended the width of the table, he said with great gusto, “Godere. Enjoy!” …
In that candlelit night of magic, Sandro held back nothing. He sang for hours, offering his passion for food, and music, his gifts of drama and decorum, and shared them relentlessly with his eyes closed and his hands over his heart. …
We, Americans of Puritanical origins, have much to learn. Why do we hold back our gifts and passions in the name of what is proper? … How can there be shame in this desire to expose the best of who we are? If we choose to hide or minimize our gifts, how can we ever embrace hope?
What I learned in Italy is that beauty is not optional. It resides at the core of each conversation, around each dinner table. Beauty nourishes our soul alongside our food. It allows us to remember not only what is possible, what we are capable of as human beings, but what is necessary. Each of us bears gifts and we can share them within the embrace of our own communities, even around the Table of Peace. Sandro Bennini, through his gifts of bread and song, baked and sung world peace heroically around his own dinner table…
What mattered was the beauty of his intention, to bring people of his village together who had never met before, and in so doing, celebrate the exuberant, tender, joyous unpredictability of humanity. In the sanctuary of his home, anything was possible because all hearts were open.
(this story was written just prior to the Iraq war and appeared in Hope magazine Spring, 2003)
Read more: Open Space of Democracy

CIRCLE NINE — Something That Transcends Us 

Excerpts from The American Soul by Jacob Needleman

  • As for the idea of democracy, the founding fathers – Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and others – never conceived of it solely as an external form of government. The meaning of democracy was always rooted in the vison of human nature as both fallible and perfectible. To a significant extent democracy, in its specifically American form was created to allow men and women to seek their own higher principles within themselves. Without that inner meaning, democracy becomes, as Plato and Aristotle pointed out 2,500 years ago, a celebration of disorder and superficiality.
  • All the rights guaranteed by the Constitution were based on a vision of human nature that calls us to be responsible human beings – responsible to something within ourselves that is higher than the all-too-human desires for personal gain and satisfaction; higher than the dictates of the purely theoretical or logical mind; higher than instinctive loyalties to family of tribe.
  • With the “world” that is America as it actually is, there waits another America, another world. Within, behind what America is there lies what America We are naïve only when we confuse the two, when our feeling of hope is directed toward the outer America that we perceive with the senses, rather than the America we grasp with the mind and heart. Because this other America seems powerless or elusive does not mean it is not real. Because America betrays it ideals is no reason to reject the ideals themselves. We do not live in correspondence with the great life hidden within us, but that is no reason to deny that this hidden life exists and calls to us.
  • The question is: can the ideals of democracy remind us that we need to become what John Dewey called democratic individuals: men and women who are inwardly democratic, who are able to step back from the personal emotions in order to allow the other to think and speak and live. Democracy, in this sense, refers not only to an outer form of government, but to a power within oneself.

Excerpts from Sacred America by Roger Housden

  • While wagon trains rolled west in the 19th century, others stayed east and traveled further in their minds than any horse could take them. The aspiration to a better life had an inner as well as an outer direction, and this impulse founded on the urge for the good and the true, has always been at the heart of what America stands for.
  • In the Constitution the founding fathers gave to the world an architecture of freedom, dignity and happiness – a structure, like no other before it, allows the possibility of human fulfillment. Yet the structure does not have the power in and of itself to guarantee the freedom and happiness it stands for. The flame in the hearth has to come from elsewhere, from deeper than the most brilliant rational thoughts – from our relationship to something unspeakable, which transcends us.

CIRCLE TEN — Artists Respond, What Does Democracy Mean to You? 

Reflection will focus on artwork contributed by artists around the world who responded to the question, what does democracy mean to you? 
These images are from the 2021 Calendar produced by The Grove Consultants International. The Grove helps organizations, teams and individuals envision and achieve change. In November 2020, The Grove put out a call to their community of artists to submit art work that answered the question, “What does democracy mean to you?”  Choosing from a wonderful array of interpretations from the calendar, I selected a handful of images for the Awakin Democracy Circle reflection. Thank you to Kathy Covert for suggesting this resource!
Scroll down to view images.
Grove Calendar 2021 - mandala image

  1. A Place at the Table. “To me, it symbolizes a large table in which everyone can fit, uniquely and with both commonalities and differences. This is the critical aspect of democracy.”  — by Kayla Kirsch, Berkeley, CA USA

Grove Calendar 2021 - Listening Collage

2.  Listening for Democracy – “A healthy democracy depends in listening among all the players. Leaders listening to constituents, voters listening to each other, and constituents listening carefully for transparency and truth from their leaders.”  — by Laurie Durnell, Mill Valley, CA USA

Grove Calendar 2021 - Networks

3.  Image by Reinhard Kuchenmuller, Gavarrona, Italy

Grove Calendar 2021 - Deep Dive

4.  “Deep democracy embraces stillness while venturing into the unknown to be in service to the whole.”  — by Vittoria Piatelli, Munich, Germany

Grove Calendar 2021 - Mountain of Commotion

5.  Mountains in Commotion. “I completed this collage a few weeks ago under the weighty impression of the pressures and challenges that democracy is under these days — things are in motion, and we don’t know whether it is for the better or for the worse.”  — by Ruth Picker, Vienna, Austria

Grove Calendar 2021 - Democracy Powered and Protected by Participation

6.  Powered and Protected by Participation  — by Tiffany Forner, Mill Valley, CA  USA

Grove Calendar 2021 - Men and Women Together

7.  Women and Men in Sacred Circle  — by Gisela Wendling, Petaluma, CA USA

CIRCLE ELEVEN — Democracy in Circles 

Excerpts from Doing Democracy with Circles, Engaging Communities in Public Practice, by Jennifer Ball, Wayne Caldwell, and Kay Prawns


The Circle created a sense of community that the participants had not experienced before and it opened a space for them to talk and to be together in much deeper ways.Democracy may not be any culture’s invention, but a natural response from human impulse to be connected in a good way.  The challenge is how to stay connected in a good way when conflict arises.Democracy meant the ordinary people, not rulers alone, were involved in decisions that affected their lives.  But this is an ideal and democratic theory. It does not say how we go about putting this ideal into practice.Circles can offer a way to more completely fulfill the promise of democracy… as a strategy for decision making, circles create far greater congruity between democracy as an ideal and democracy as a practice. Circles ensure that each voice will be heard, each concern taken into account.Circles are places where democracy occasionally breaks out.  In circles, the mutual respect that democracy’s ideals generate can be experienced.

How can we create a world where people are heard?  How can we create a society that is more equal, fair, just, compassionate and loving? The circle might be a model to use to get us there.

Excerpt from Margaret Wheatley’s forward to the book, The Circle Way, A Leader in Every Chair, by Christina Baldwin

We don’t pay nearly as much attention to shape, to the form of the meeting. We spend a great deal of time preparing content, agendas and dealing with politics, but then barely notice the shape of the room in which we are going to work. Circle is an ancient archetype of the human spirit – one that summons people everywhere to step into conversation… Circles create co-equal participation and reflective thinking.Form is the most essential element to consider, predictive of the outcome of the meeting. Then as now, no matter what is taking shape in the exterior world, human beings can get through anything as long as we’re together… May we take these [circle] practices to heart as our path going forward… and come out of the darkness of isolation into the clear seeing that a circle makes possible.

The world is made of circles – and we think in straight lines.
― Peter M. Senge

Vision from Black Elk, Oglala Sioux Medicine man

Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.
And I saw the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father, and I saw that it was holy.

CIRCLE TWELVE — Audri Scott Williams 

On the September 2, 2021 Awakin Democracy Circle Call, a dear friend, Audri Scott Williams, reflected on her political campaign and offered insights to spark our collective inquiry into the spirit of democracy in this time of planetary transformation. Here are a few of Audri’s gems that emerged in a recent conversation:  It’s time to break through the fog, go deeper to build relationship, forgive the unforgivable, awaken to a species-oriented democracy.  Audri is currently the Director of the Spiritual Enrichment Center in Dothan, Alabama. She is the first African American-Native American woman to run for U.S. Congress from District 2, Alabama.
Photo of campaign sign for Audri Scott Williams, posted on a lawn in Cottonwood, Alabama, with flowers atop the post.



Trail of Dreams World Peace Walk and subsequent walks – we experienced people uniting who never thought they would come together. They came to care for one another. They knew they could make a difference.

Our campaign helpers included people who never thought of themselves playing a role in politics. Many came from homeless shelters. Our campaign office was intentionally in a rough part of town. We wanted to include people who had been treated as marginalized and invite them to help.

We need ancestors. We need people to lift our gaze and show us what is possible.  This [uplift] helps unleash global innovation on many fronts….environment, women’s rights…

The experience in 1965 crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge was an event that was a collective piercing of the veil…something that we could do as people of color. Amelia Boynton Robinson said that what gave her and the other marchers courage was that, “We knew we had already won. We had to be strong enough to carry it out.”

We are opening up the dream of democracy in a new way. Souls are gathering that know they can make a better world together.

We are waking up. What are we waking up to?  Vaclav Havel said it (his quote)

Planetary democracy does not yet exist but our global civilization is already preparing a place for it. It is the very Earth we inhabit linked with Heaven above us. Only in this setting can the mutuality and the commonality of the human race be newly created with reverence and gratitude for that which transcends each of us and all of us together.

Democracy is breathing and growing in us. We are waking up both to the governance democracy requires and the participation. Each of us has it within us to envision the future. This path is leading us to transcendence.

At this time on the planet, we are living in a pressure cooker. The pressure can destroy us or it can also force us to find ways to release the pressure. We release the pressure, each one of us, by the choices we make.

As we walked the land of the Iroquois, carrying the fire was important. We were passing the fire. Passing it from the ancestors.  We understood that light (fire) has to be nurtured, Oil needs replacement.  That fire, the Spirit of light moving across five continents had power. That flame had power. When you carry the flame, the flame carries you.

The grandmothers have amazing love for the Earth. With this kind of love we can light the universe.

We acknowledge we are connected with a great mystical lineage. The four grandmothers were with me in my natality. This connects to deep foundations.

This [foundation] is what our political representatives must have. Like the representatives of the beginning nations –  there must be listening where I am being guided and participating.

The new democracy asks us to own every part of ourselves and have the courage to live it out!

I am listening. I am watering the seeds. The seeds are the children, the youth.  The seeds is our inner voice.

After you were cut off… Joanne read a quote from my democracy book, Thomas Paine p.103

We have the power to begin the world all over again. A situation similar to the present has not appeared since the days of Noah until now. The birth of a new world is at hand.

CIRCLE THIRTEEN — Dual Citizenship 

From Parker Palmer “Dual Citizenship”

When the world’s heartbreak threatens to take me down, it helps if I can remember that this is not the only world to which I belong. Like every human being, I have “dual citizenship.” I’m not talking about another country or a world we create with wishful thinking. I mean the vast and very real world of nature that stretches from our bodies to all the life around us, then to the stars, and on to the immensity we call the cosmos. I mean a natural world so vast that we can never do the harm we have done on earth.

Remembering my “dual citizenship” is not an effort to evade the world of human heartbreak. By understanding that I belong to a cosmos that has seen it all, embraced it all, and folded all of it into what is, I have a better chance to “see life steadily and see it whole” (and in the end, there is only one world).

When I can look at life that way, I’m better able to engage creatively with the here and now, neither crushed by a sense of inadequacy nor lost in fantasy.

Memo to Self: Linger on the last few lines of this William Stafford poem [below], where he describes the vastness in which you live. He calls it “this tranquil chaos that seems to be going somewhere, this wilderness of peacefulness, this motionless turmoil, this everything dance.”

Rooted in the serenity of that cosmic reality, return to the heartbreak of everyday life to contribute whatever you can to healing and peace.

From Robin Wall Kimmerer

Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair, not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the Earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.

From William Stafford

William Stafford's poem, "Time for Serenity, Anyone?" appears below a photo of a mountain valley with stream and hillsides of red and orange flowers.

Time for Serenity, Anyone? by William Stafford

I like to live in the sound of water,
in the feel of mountain air. A sharp
reminder hits me: this world still is alive,
it stretches out there shivering toward its own
creation, and I’m part of it. Even my breathing
enters into this elaborate give-and-take,
this bowing to sun and moon, day or night,
winter, summer, storm, still — this tranquil
chaos that seem to be going somewhere.
This wilderness with a great peacefulness in it.
This motionless turmoil, this everything dance.