Saturday, June 25, 2022

Circles Circles Circles

Circles are a favorite motif for me! They hold much in the way of symbolism for life and my spiritual journey. They can be viewed as a directional line. Seasons, relationships, and life issues come and go and then return. And circles can be viewed as expanding or contracting inner spaces & community spaces. In both spaces, the potential for connections are infinite in number and rich meaning.  

Below details of today's book, find links to 3 other books about circles featured here at PBT.

Picture Book: The Circles All Around Us

Author: Brad Montague

Illustrator: Brad & Kristi Montague

Summary: In rhymed verse, a child teaches how to draw a small circle around self to represent our safe small 1-person space. Keeping that circle small and closed would be like "a library with just one book on the shelf." 

Next we are urged to draw a bigger circle, one for family. Then we see other circles for friends, often times even bigger. Concentric circles are shown for each community of connection. Hospitality is encouraged, even when differences in language and custom make it uncomfortable, because...

    there's a difference we can make

    and a love we can all show.

The acknowledgement that being in an expanding circle is not easy is rich material for conversation. Sharing space is hard. It's also hard to leave a circle to become a member of another circle. But there is joy and wonder and a sense that bigger, expanding circles are what life and love are all about!  

Hanna’s Comments: Interestingly, this book is from the creator of the Kid President web series. This author/illustrator is the person you don't usually see in those videos. If I haven’t convinced you of the powerful metaphor of circles, perhaps Father Richard Rohr can. On 4/11/22, in his daily email titled Expanding Circles of Love, he wrote the only way he knows to love God is to love what God loves. This is everything and everyone! God loves God's creation! Such inclusive love results in a "constant expansion beyond ourselves to loving others," which is what you see in this picture book.  

Here's my favorite spiritual idea about circles. Its an ancient metaphor also about loving others as a way of loving God. The world can be viewed not as circle expansion but as circle contraction, if that contraction is also toward God. This process was uniquely demonstrated via a circle diagram or compass by desert father Abba Dorotheos of Gaza in the 500s CE (spelled Dorotheos & Dorotheus). God is the center of the world's circle. An infinite number of straight lines represent each of us (Rohr would emphasize these are persons AND things) who in moving towards God also moves toward others. See Rohr's words above about the best way to love God.

Original Publisher: Dial Books, 2021

Age Appropriateness: 5 and up

Formats other than Book: Tablet

Scripture Connections: The 2 Great Commandments: love God and neighbor (Mark 12:28-31 & Luke 10:25-28) and other scriptures about loving connections; Any scripture about community such as those describing the early Christian churches (Acts 2:42-47)

PBT Applications: This picture book and the ideas of Rohr and Dorotheos invite you to play with circles as symbols of community and connection. Do this with art supplies, floor diagrams & games, and discussions after each experience. Use circle stencils, hula-hoops, geometry compasses, protractors, big paper plates or pizza pans, posters cut into circles, etc. 

Other PBT books about circles:

Circle of Thanks

Circle Unbroken

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O

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