Our first CCC gathering

Our first CCC gathering in Sedona was a smashing success. 23 of us gathered in Sedona on the weekend of April 8-11. Those attending came from all over the country (including two from Alaska), several came from Canada, one from Mexico, and even one from the United Kingdom (me!).

Our CCC gathering began on Friday night with a social time at the Circle house. We had planned some ice-breaking activities, but it soon became clear that, as one person said, there was no ice to break. Everyone immediately fell into conversation. It was great to see people who know each other well meet for the very first time (“Is that Martha?” “Is that Barb?”). Greg called it “a reunion of people who had never met.” Towards the end of the evening, I, with help from Veronica, paid tribute to Andre Gendron for his years of devoted service to the Circle (he stepped off the board at the beginning of this year). It was a deeply meaningful moment for Andre, myself, and others who knew of Andre’s long labors on the Circle’s behalf.

Saturday we had a workshop that was open to the public, held at the sanctuary at Unity of Sedona, with 65 registrants. Titled, “Love Cannot Be Compromised: The Heart of A Course in Miracles,” it was designed to be a four-session overview of the Course’s thought system. This, in turn, would become the basis for an introductory course that we plan to train teachers to present. So Saturday was not only our first workshop in Sedona in years, it was also a test-run of an event we hope will be reproduced many, many times.

I for one was extremely happy with how the day came off. The audience was very present and cooperative, despite some material that was personally and/or theoretically challenging. I felt the sessions went quite well (though one of them was clearly too crammed with material and will be broken into two sessions in future presentations). We heard some touching sharing of miracle stories at the end of the day. Overall, I felt it worked, and the feedback forms we got back were very affirming as well. As a result, I felt tremendously energized about the future of this course, and have already spent a good deal of time refining it in light of how things went Saturday.

On Sunday, our CCC members gathered at the Circle house for the bulk of our CCC gathering. It was a truly lovely day. We began with reading the day’s Workbook lesson and then having a nice half-hour meditation together.

Then we shared about how various projects within the CCC are going. These included the Teacher-Pupil Initiative, Circle Advisors, the Scholarship Project, the Prayer Ministry, and the Workbook class.

We broke for a tasty lunch, consisting of a Mexican tostada buffet and pizzas.

We then came back together, and talked about training teachers in the intro course and came up with a rough outline for that: invite teachers who fulfill certain prerequisites to sign up; send them the notes (which will be fairly close to a script) to learn; have a gathering (probably week-long) in which the actual training takes place; make sure that the teacher presenting the training is conducting classes in that area that attendees can transition into. I was happy to hear from some teachers who, after Saturday’s event, were eager to present this course in their areas.

Then we heard about the Circle’s first (and, for now, only) satellite: Course Oasis in Ottawa, Canada, run by Mary Anne Buchowski. It was wonderful hearing all that is happening there. We got to hear not only from Mary Anne, but also from Amy and Paula, about what’s going on and what it’s like there. It made the idea of a Circle Satellite seem truly alive and viable. I heard from two other CCC members who are thinking seriously about heading down that road.

Finally, we all sat and listened for guidance that would be helpful for the CCC, particularly about how we can build community more effectively and how we can manifest our vision for the future. I’ll probably post at least some of the results of that soon. It was wonderful to sit down and listen together and then share what we had received; a truly fitting ending to the day.

The next day, Monday morning, the teachers who were present from the Teacher-Pupil Initiative and the Workbook class had a chance to gather once more in the morning. First on our list to discuss was a suggestion from the previous day that we let the Course community know that personal teachers are available here in the Teacher-Pupil Initiative. When we discussed that, it quickly became clear that if this worked, our current teachers would be instantly overloaded. So we said that we need to bring more teachers in, which led to the realization that, for these teachers to be truly effective, they should receive training in the role of mentoring pupils.

So we quickly outlined a process to go through for that training. We will first design a training program together (we’ve now already started on that). At some point we will invite teachers who fulfill certain prerequisites to take part. The training will probably take place primarily via telephone classes, but will also involve some kind of in-person gathering. And it will also involve taking on pupils, with supervision by existing teachers. This idea of training teachers of pupils was one of the most important things to come out of the weekend, from my perspective. It was completely out of the blue, yet it also seemed completely necessary and right.

I came out of the weekend feeling deeply grateful. It seemed like a real turning point in our life as a community. I was genuinely surprised at how many of us managed to get there, despite so few of us living locally. I had originally thought we might, if very lucky, get perhaps ten people; more likely six. A few months after the CCC formed we sent out a questionnaire which included a question about whether people wanted a gathering in Sedona. Virtually no one was very interested. It’s a real testimony to the richness of our community life that, three years later, so many of us spent the time and money it took to come together in person.

I know Amy already invited comments on the gathering in an earlier post, but I’d love to hear more in the comment section here. So please feel free to share specific vignettes or overall impressions from the weekend, or to ask questions if you weren’t there. Your sharing will help fill out the gathering for those who didn’t attend, and even for those who did.