Circles of Life

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Circles of Life

What lies before us
and what lies behind us
are small matters
compared to what lies within us.
And when we bring what is within
out into the world,
miracles happen.
-Henry David Thoreau

In the book Black Elk Speaks, Black Elk, a Wichasha Wakan (medicine man or holy man) of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) said, “The power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be round. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is like a ball, and so are all 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 and moon, both round, come forth and go down again in a circle. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a person is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.”

“The life of a person is a circle,” a precious circle of vibrant life energy filled with contrast and paradoxes—seeking and finding, winning and losing, heart-throbbing and heartbreaking, inspired and depressing, sensuous and spartan, clear and confusing—forming relationships that run the gamut from politically correct to deeply authentic and using our creative energy in ways that can deplete us or raise us to the stars. All of this and more is part of the journey we travel when we enter the circle of life.

To fulfill our own unique cycle, we face all the possibilities in the circle. How we face them determines what we learn, how our character develops, and how our wisdom unfolds. How we face them also determines how much time we spend in joy and sadness.

Have you ever seen those play areas at pizza places that are filled with balls? Kids jump, stomp, slide, roll, laugh, and basically have a good time in them. Most often when they bump into each other, they just laugh…and sometimes they cry. When I see my life as a circle, that’s what I see: vibrantly colored resilient balls (people) bouncing around in a vast container, the possible combinations and interactions between balls infinite. And yet there are certain people we interact with more often and eagerly because we are attracted to them.

One such life that has been and is so meaningful to me is my dear friend and playmate, Mark McInteer. Instant comfort and ease, shared visions and commitments, mutual admiration and respect, belly laughs and tenderness have been hallmarks of our friendship. Basically, I’ve said to myself a thousand times with joy and gratitude, “What a guy!” We’ve bounced around the seminar room together and traipsed around the Northwest assisting people to open their hearts and minds to their own possibilities and life’s magic.

Mark is a giver, known and respected by his community for his unwavering commitment to people learning what serves them best to lead healthy, meaningful lives. Tireless, passionate, courageous, and real.

And now my dear friend is living with terminal cancer, living each moment with honor, grit, love, and authenticity. Mark, your life has touched mine so deeply, and I am just one among many for whom this is true. When I visited you the other day and saw you in a wheelchair, my heart broke. However, you were so excited about your trip to Disney Land with your beautiful two-year-old daughter, Abigail, that I let go of my sadness and joined you in your happiness to give her such a wonderful gift and memory of her remarkable dad.

This one instance poignantly revealed to me again your true and indomitable character, wanting to give as much as you can give until the very last moment.

Your family, friends, and community hold you now in the circle of their arms and hearts tenderly, thankful that the circles of our lives have been blessed by your life, that your life has come full circle.
Thank you, dear friend, for sharing the miracle of life with me.

(Mark died shortly after this appeared in our newsletter and after returning from his trip to Disney Land with his family.)


1. Bring to mind someone you were naturally attracted to because of their true nature, and who touched your life in a positive way. Describe them and what you were attracted to.

2. What did you learn about yourself from this person?

3. Have you let this person know how important they are to you? If no, is now the time to acknowledge their contribution to your life?

With love and gratitude,
Kris King

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