When I was struck with the idea for this blog I did some mind mapping to get down all my initial thoughts and try to impose some order. As I worked in that medium, I realized it was going to be more challenging to talk about Leaping than Listening. I can identify things that brought me to the place in my life where I was able to take those Leaps, but that actual taking of the big step is still a bit mysterious!
One of the things that has made all the difference in my spiritual path as a whole and in my ability to take Leaps is having a support system and finding my community, my tribe. My strongest circles of support have come to me at different times and in different ways, but they have played a huge part in my development and well-being. Many factors go into a healthy community of supportive friends, and there is no one size fits all.
Even as an introvert, when times were tough I naturally sought out a community to help me through things. When I moved to Michigan I had my partner at the time and coworkers and that was it. It didn’t feel like enough, especially when it came to spirituality. I ended up trying out Unitarian Universalism on for size. While the local church was great, it still wasn’t the right fit for me. Part of that was because I found out that I work much better in smaller groups than in large ones.
Through that church I got involved with classes and small discussion groups, and from there my Women’s Spirituality Group was born. We met monthly for years, discussing whatever spiritual topic was of interest, with leadership that rotated based on desire. Membership was mostly steady but with some changes over time, one of the more recent ones being my leaving due to moving to WV. That core group of women with common interests helped me grow into who I am today, and their encouragement and support on my journey enabled me to tackle the scary stuff, like leaps of faith. Along with my shamanic apprenticeship group and my (spiritual and secular) friends, that small group formed my network, my council fire, my tribe.
Two of the small groups out of the three mentioned above were rather intentionally sought on my part, and intentionally created by their founders. But accidental circles shouldn’t be discounted either. Over the years I have gathered a small but close group of friends. Not all of them are shamanic practitioners or pagans, or even spiritual. But they understand that I am, that it’s important to me, and since they value me as a person, they value my path and experiences.
Even my forays into shamanic practices revealed another layer of community and support. Through my journeywork I was formally introduced to and able to clearly work with my Helping Spirits. Some are messengers there for a specific healing or teaching, but others are around for the long haul, as close to me as any physical person. That deep sense of faith, of Spirit having my back, was a profound learning for me, and I’m so grateful for it.
One thing that didn’t matter much to me was form. How the groups got together and all the other logistics weren’t necessarily as important as their presence. I have done small group work in people’s homes and in Google Hangouts. Groups that meet in person still stay in touch between meetings via email, text, and Facebook groups. Since I’ve moved to WV, the physical distance between me and almost all of my support network has increased, but through the wonders of technology, if I’m struggling I still have those friends to turn to. And they can still turn to me.
Experiment with what community looks and feels like to you. How are you supported? If you don’t feel well supported on your personal path, what steps can you take to change that? If you are willing to try a few groups on for a bit, I think you’ll find the Universe will meet you halfway with a circle that can be your tribe and chosen family.
As for me, I’m still leaning a bit on the technology. I have a great partner, and I’m keeping my eyes out for like-minded folk in my new home state. We shall see what comes!