Trust the Circle

Midweek Blog: Trust the Circle

25 October 2023

“Trust the circle” was a favorite phrase of Rubén Castilla Herrera, best known to our congregation as the organizer behind Edith Espinal’s sanctuary stay in our building.  That phrase is also the name of a new book about Rubén’s life: Trust the Circle: The Resistance and Resilience of Rubén Castilla Herrera.  It’s written by OSU Professor of Latino/a Cultural and Literary Studies Paloma Martinez-Cruz, a friend of Rubén’s.

My copy came in the mail this past week. 

It’s difficult to review or recommend a book one has just opened, but here are three reasons you might want to own a copy.

1. Circle Philosophy

Over the course of his life, told throughout the book, Rubén developed practices that brought people together in circles.  He also encouraged people to think in circles.  A quote from him in the book:

Everywhere you are is the center of the world.  You’re always standing in the middle of sacred space, standing the middle of the circle.  Everyone who walks up to you has entered that sacred space, and it’s not accidental. Whatever comes into the space is there to teach you.

2. A Columbus Story

The Foreword, by Pranav Jani, notes that the book is a contribution to Latinx history.  It continues:

In defiance of the flat, formulaic stereotype of Central Ohio and the Midwest as a ‘red space’ (not the red of revolutionaries!), Trust the Circle alerts us to the fact that at the heart of our social justice communities, there is a Latinx story, a queer story, an Indigenous story, an immigrant story, and a working-class story.

3. The Sanctuary Story

The final chapter of the book, coinciding with the final chapter of Rubén’s life, includes the story of Edith in sanctuary at Columbus Mennonite as well as Miriam Vargas’ sanctuary at First English Lutheran.  This is an important story for us to keep reflecting on – to learn what we learned through the experience, and to prod us in the present.  Professor Martinez-Cruz visited Columbus Mennonite as part of her research and even includes our sanctuary prayer, which is now in the new Voices Together hymnal.   

I’ll be part of a group of people assisting with the book launch event next Thursday evening, November 2, at the OSU Wexner Center for the Arts, which will be merged with a Día de los Muetos observance.  You can RSVP to participate a Community Conversations circle at 4pm, or come for the book launch at 5:15.  More info HERE.