It was twilight by the time the entire group had assembled in my Brooklyn Heights apartment. We sat in a circle on the floor of my candle-lit living room and held hands in silence in order to create the perfect atmosphere for sharing. Then Melissa produced her Talking Stick and a mantle of awe fell upon us—for the polished wooden rod really did seem to exude a magical aura all of its own.
As hostess, I explained how we were going to use the stick to explore the concept of Unconditional Love. A few groans were uttered, which subsided under a volley of glares from those who took our sharing mucho seriously. Briefly I spoke of the high ceremonial and spiritual value of such a stick in the context of aboriginal democracy—that a Talking Stick is passed around in a group, or used by a leader as a symbol of his/her authority. Only the person holding the stick is allowed to speak—a wise custom that allows all participants to be heard, including introverts. Consensus can force the stick to move along to assure that the pedantic and long-winded don’t dominate the discussion, while the person holding the stick may allow others to interject. Continue reading