Why Check-In, Always

A friend recently shared with me a very close-up picture of a flower in her garden. I loved it for the way it revealed a world hidden, a world of change, that you’d miss without taking the time to deliberately dwell. I decided to try the same with a few flowers. The above red rose, planted a few years back, grows near my front door. I planted it to honor my Granny Gould, who, I suppose, encouraged me to look to the inner, and to delight in the beauty of flowers.

Recently I participated with a group that was exploring a few aspects of “check-in” within the practice of circle as method and as way of being. It was fun. People were sharing a few experiences that ranged from the technical process to the more nuanced invitations. Dwelling behind that was a common core question, not really spoken out loud, but nonetheless palpable — why check-in?

There is a particular clarity that has come for me over the years. It’s simple. Yet, rather impactful for its invitation. I’ll offer two bits of that.

One, check-in because who we are continues to change. Sure, there’s a part of us that remains in a red thread of our lives. But fundamentally, we are changing creatures. We notice things. We are moved by conversations. We are impacted by stories we hear. Our brains and hearts can’t help but connect ideas, feelings, emotions, wondering. OK, I know that some of us have protective barriers that strip us of our noticing capabilities. But even noticing that is part of the constant change that we are. Check-in because it’s inherently part of every team (or family, or community, or task force, or organization), and I would suggest every individual, to be a good noticer. Notice what? What is changing.

Two, because there is alway a mystery to lean to. Yes, sometimes it’s a mystery that we fight with. Or a mystery that we prefer to deny. But this is a fundamental outlook on life. Mystery. Circle, and check-in, gives us a format to encounter just a bit more of that mystery, and, perhaps more crucially, the energy of mystery. I would suggest that for any of us these days, growing our ability to be in the letting go of control and fear-laden predictions, is massively important skill.

Check-in (and circle as a whole) gives us process to dwell. It gives us a way to look close up and close in. It gives us a way to notice where there is dew, where the light shines, where there is unfolding, where there is rich and vibrant hue. Inner and outer. Yah, check-in for all of that.

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