Big circles of purpose and serendipity seem to move around us all the time. Sometimes we get to see them clearly loop around or close; and at other times their arcs are very long, and they move undetectably until we sense a coincidence and can trace a thread back.

Not without some wonder, I’ve seen one of the latter varieties of circle quietly happen around me these past couple of weeks. It’s been lovely in that way of feeling the hidden wholeness of all things.

Those last few words are not mine. They are Parker J. Palmer’s. From his book A Hidden Wholeness. And Parker is at the centre of my circle story.

I’m in the few days lead-up to an incredible opportunity to chat to Parker at this year’s Tasmanian Leaders Program Symposium – titled ‘Leadership + Trust’.

I was a participant in the Tasmanian Leaders Program in 2012 and it was half-way through the same year that I read my first PJP book, The Courage to Teach. And here, just a few years later, I’ll be talking with him about trust and the ‘tragic gap’; hearing him elucidate these powerful concepts to our Tassie gang. It’s not nothing… it’s really something. I’m filled with marvel and gratitude. Thank you, Tas Leaders. Thank you, Parker.

On reflection, I’ve got a number of ‘circles’ metaphors in my life: ‘Circles of Communication’ – a concept in speech therapy related to building children’s social interaction; Circle of Security® – a parenting program focusing on secure attachment in relationships; and Circles of Trust™ – the circles of Parker’s own work with the Center for Courage & Renewal and its mission ‘to create a more just, compassionate and healthy world by nurturing personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it’.

These generous circles all pour their purpose and serendipity directly into positive human agency and wellbeing, whirling and spinning their power for human wholeness. And scarcely is this more beautifully articulated anywhere than in this poem used in the first Courage & Renewal Circle of Trust on Tassie soil:

Everything the Power of the World Does is Done in a Circle

Everything the Power of the World does

is done in a circle. The sky is round,

and I have heard that the earth is round

like a ball, and so are the stars.

The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. 

Birds make their nests in circles,

for theirs is the same religion as ours.

The sun comes forth and goes down again

in a circle. The moon does the same,

and both are round. Even the seasons

form a great circle in their changing,

and always come back again to where they were.

The life of man is a circle from childhood to childhood,

and so it is in everything where power moves.


From Black Elk Speaks by John G. Neihardt


Photo: Brian McMahon via Unsplash