Restorative Justice brings the heart and soul to violations of the law.

  • Posted on February 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Yesterday at the River Falls Rotary Club, we were treated to a presention about South Korea.  This included an explanation about the flag.  Our present explained the four elements: heaven, water, fire, earth.  It was so interesting to me, that where “air” usually is stated, “heaven” was used.  I immediately thought of blogging about this piece of the presenation that heaven is an element with water, fire and earth.  Air is breath, without breath we are dead.  When dead, the soul ceases in the physical world.  Is the non-physical world “heaven”?   

Wikipedia, gives different, but very interesting explanations.  Check out the wiki-link.  I love anything with 4, because of the Circle, and the equal division of a Circle is 4.

I believe breath is connected to soul.  As a Circle keeper, focusing on calm breath at the beginning of a Circle, enhances the sacredness or should I say deepens the emotional climate.  I rang my tingsha’s recently, after not using them for awhile.  (all posts where I mention tingsha’s).  The calming and centering effect was very obvious.  I can be nervous starting out a Circle, worried if people will engage, or wanting to make a good impression on a person involved (like a Judge).  I always know, when I become calm, the Circle is calmer.  That is a concept I also teach, when keeping, the influence that one person can have on a Circle.

I got to be a community member in a Circle, with a new Circlekeeper.  I saw and experienced her committment to the process, the committment of her person to the power of the Circle.  It is amazing thing to witness, young people court ordered to attend, transform.  The session was a CSI Circle, (CSI stands for Controlled Substance Intervention) very similiar to the Underage Consumption Panels I developed (combining Restorative Justice Circle process and evidence-based curriculm).  Youth who get in trouble from smoking weed or having paraphernalia have shown up to these classes, really looking the part.  I don’t like to judge people or label, however, they do come in looking like well, sorry “stoners”.  People are not always what they appear like on the outside.  I’m sorry I used the word “stoners” to describe the youth, because what I witnessed in that Circle was young people who made choices to use and were now being open in listening and sharing.

Group facilitation that comes from the heart and soul can really help people.  The Circle group of “stoners” did some really amazing things.  I observed two “hoods up” as we started.  The use of a hood, and slumping body posture only lasts so long in a Circle.  I noticed early on that one hood had already been removed.  It was much longer and I saw the other one was removed.  This group opened up to all of us.  We heard how hard it was to have your Mom arrive at 3 am, seeing you handcuffed and sitting on a curb.  Having to look her in the eye and see how hurt she was.  She/Mom only thought it was a curfew ticket and found out it was posession and paraphernalia.  Another young person explained how using effects his relationships, if using  his date is just a hook-up and that’s it.  A relationship can evolve if he doesn’t use when he has a first date.

We talked about mixing of drugs and witnessing an overdose.  The stories and experiences would alarm you.  They did me.  The truth is not always pretty.  It was obvious that using causes pain.  Using has social, emotional, physical and spiritual consequences.  It hurts your spirit to be labeled as a “pot-head”.  The Circle talked about that label, and how long it takes to be cleaned up before it leaves you.  They all expessed “take aways” from the Circle.  They all identified a change that they would make from experiencing the Circle.  Will they all stay 100% clean and sober from here on out?  Probably not.  However, compare what I described to you to the simple act of paying for their tickets.

Restorative Justice brings the heart and soul to violations of the law.

If you would like to be a community member or restorative justice volunteer, visit for more information.

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