Today begins a new series I’m co-hosting, of online classes on The Circle Way. Two new groups of 14 participants. One in the morning (Pacific Time). One in the afternoon (Pacific Time). This means that today starts the fifth and sixth groups that Amanda Fenton and I have taught / hosted / offered in this format, beginning in 2018.

Each class runs two hours. Each class meets weekly, and runs four times. They are fun. In part because they are a convening. Yes, some teaching. Yes, some communing. Yes, some encountering each other. And because they are online, using Zoom and Basecamp, the group is deliciously geographically spread. This time around, it’s Canada, Denmark, USA, Bermuda, Netherlands, and France.

Getting in the room is an important step today. It’s true of face-to-face gatherings, isn’t it. The first step. Helping to remove some of the hesitations, nervousness, and barriers. It’s even more true of virtual gatherings (which, thanks to Zoom, is actually a form of face-to-face). Getting started. Feeling the connection of the group. Leaning in to what is possible in the learning and in our journey together. Seeing who is in for the ride together.

So, how do you do that?

I’m excited that the first layer of check-in with this group will be a question about yearning. What is some of the yearning that brings you to this online class together?

Expressions of yearning are one of the thickest ways that I know to help people arrive and begin to feel the connection of the group. We could choose other questions. For example, even the basics of your name and your position. Those also create an awareness with one another. There is just less skin in the game for that. It’s pretty standard and expected stuff.

When asked what you yearn for, that requires digging a bit deeper. It requires some searching of what matters to you. It requires some vulnerability. It requires some disclosure. It’s longing. All of these, are added peeks into who we are. Sometimes, so that we can see ourselves. Sometimes so that we can see each other. Sometimes so that we can see the sharedness found in the expressions that we each speak. It’s not a short cut, but yearning does create some accelerated weave of the group.

Yearning can be a big circle, easily five minutes per person, or longer. Today won’t be that. It will be more of the one minute version, which is surprisingly a lot. Enough to bring the energy that can carry us through the four weeks together.

Beginnings matter. That’s what my teachers have often told me. Beginnings are particularly fulfilling, I find, when there is deliberateness in building connective tissue among us. Yearning — well, that’s just one of the great ways in. Simple question that invites thoughtful attention and contribution to the whole.

Here we go.