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Courage, Renewal & Poetry

At the heart of a Circle of Trust


Sometimes I think I would be an entirely better person if even a quarter of the time I spend scrolling the news, social media and weather reports was spent sitting quietly with a poem. Our Spring Circle of Trust® this past weekend really brought this home.


At the heart of any circle of trust is taking time with a poem, a story, an image, even a piece of music, that’s meant to evoke deep personal reflection. On Saturday we spent a full hour and a quarter working with May Sarton’s poem “Mud Season,” a poem particularly relevant on a rainy spring morning.

Sitting with the poem

We began by reading the poem slowly, listening quietly as different voices read it aloud. As we continued to sit with Sarton’s words, participants spoke aloud any lines or phrases that resonated or seemed significant to them. A generous time of private, individual reflection followed, where each person could ponder what the poem awoke in them and how they were experiencing spring. We next met in small groups to listen attentively to one another’s thoughts and questions. It was a slow, generous, thought-filled time.

At the close of the circle many of the participants remarked on how deeply this practice with a poem had taken them. They saw things differently; found fresh understanding. One participant, Cathy, said she felt lighter.

I wonder how I might change, if I took more time to let a poem offer new insight and slow my whirring thoughts.


We’re planning another in-person circle in Toronto, in June. More about that in good time.


Not in Toronto?

If you don’t live in the Toronto area, or even if you do, we’re continuing our regular Sunday morning circles (micro retreats) online. Our next one is Wonder, on Sunday May 5. We follow the same guidelines and format in a shorter time frame.


And we know lots of people are hesitant to participate in an online offering, but listen to what Monique from Albuquerque, New Mexico has to say:

My first experience [of an online retreat] completely surprised me! I was expecting a zoom meeting where there would be a presentation with maybe some participant questions or short interactions. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the first session I felt like an integral member of the group.
I’ve been surprised by many things: the way I feel when experiencing a different kind of communication, how deep the materials could resonate within me and provoke things I’ve known but never voiced.
I do not prefer Zoom communication at all. I still struggle with connection during online groups, but I sense none of that with Inside Outside retreats. I could easily be in the same room with participants and have the same feelings.
I wish others could know how touched their souls could be during a 75 minute micro retreat. I wish others knew how safe a space with strangers can be.

So, yes, our online offerings offer the same opportunity to stop, refresh yourself and nourish your spirit as an in person circle. Monique goes on to say:

There is nothing else like it; there is no one else like this group. You may find you resonate with a selection from a book or poem, or some beautiful image. The facilitators offer parts of a collage, and you find the way to piece them together with guidance from co-participants. What you come up with may surprise you, it may delight you or bring you to tears. It will most certainly change you, even if only in some small way, and may continue to change the way you see the world forever after.
The time is precious and such a gift.}

You could join us…


Wonder: an online Circle of Trust®

Sunday May 5, 10:30 am – 11:45 am


It’s a way to come to life that reveals possibilities.

It opens us to beauty and wisdom in everyday objects and encounters.

It helps us find fresh perspective and understanding in troubling situations.

Wonder can renew the spirit.

During this online micro retreat we’ll ponder:

  • How can we access and sustain wonder in our lives?
  • What can wonder give us?

Pay What You Can

Register here.

Contact Us

We are settlers on Treaty 13 Land, the traditional territories of many Indigenous Nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples from across Turtle Island. We are committed to honouring the history this land bears witness to, responding to the 94 Calls to Action of the  Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and walking lightly on the Earth. A portion of proceeds from all our offerings are sent to:  The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and The Nii’kinaaganaa Foundation.

The Inside Outside Retreat Centre, Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), 720 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON, M5S2R4