Taking a Step for Others & Myself

By Patsy Lee, Open Circle student

The first time I encountered Student Open Circles I was in my first year at McMaster and part of another club that was collaborating to plan an event with Open Circle. I remember the relaxing and warm atmosphere as Marybeth facilitated the meetings, encouraging us to listen and value each person’s thoughts and presence.

In my second year I was more immersed in school than before, and eventually realized that I consistently felt lost and also dry. Over the Christmas break I remembered my thoughts about Open Circle from my first year, and decided to try out a Reflection Circle. It was one of the first times I had taken a step to respond to what I felt was needed in my life at school and, although I was scared and did not know what to expect, I was not sure what else to do.

The Reflection Circle, facilitated by Marybeth, became a weekly event in my life because of both the confidentiality and the warmness that it brought into me. My heart began to reawaken. That semester, the theme was “Vulnerabilities,” and through drawing, meditating, free discussion, reading, and sometimes just sitting there, the small group cultivated an inviting and valuing environment where I could slowly explore what I had been feeling. I began to value my pain, sadness, and insecurities and met others who also shared in my questions and curiosities. In that way I began to value myself and also others.

I am currently in my third year at McMaster, and in addition to being a devoted participant at a Reflection Circle, I am also a part of the Open Circle planning team for various events so that I can help to create the same attentive and encouraging presence for other students. Although I will not say that I am now completely at peace with my vulnerabilities, Open Circle has been an invaluable resource and also a community of support and friendship. Each time I attend a Reflection Circle or planning meeting I am reminded of how lucky I was in first year when I stumbled upon this community; it was by chance I took a step forward, but now I gladly walk to help Open Circle flourish where I can.