{one of my favorite inner rings, forged by time and trial and good fortune}

It can be intimidating to go to a meeting of five hundred smart, opinionated, quite successful women.  Let alone women bloggers: that’s another category altogether.    And when 500 women gather at Blissdom this week, there’ll inevitably be 100 little groups of 4 or 5 women huddling and laughing and talking about all manner of topics, as it should be.      We seek out those with whom we have much in common and hope to make true connections.   But lurking closely is temptation to what C.S. Lewis, in his book The Weight of Glory,  calls the ‘inner ring’.   And we often perceive that we are somehow just ‘outside’ it.   You know the ‘inner ring’ well from high school;  the group of girls that are inseparable and exist for the sole purpose of excluding everyone else from their circle.   The group is usually not a natural, organic group that forges easily because of the like interests shared by the parties.   It’s a group that has the appearance of  including the ‘important people’ or the ‘people in the know’.   And it’s sole existence is exclusion.  The allure for the inner ring only works if there’s an imaginary line of admittance which is guarded tightly by those already inside.     Lewis points out what many of us already know;

If all you want is to be in the know,  your pleasure will be short-lived.   The circle cannot have from  within the charm it had from outside.  By the very act of admitting you it has lost its magic.   Once the first novelty is worn off, the members of this circle will be no more interesting than your old friends.   Why should they be?  You were not looking for virtue or kindness or loyalty or humour or learning or wit or any of the things that can be really enjoyed.  You merely wanted to be “in”.  And that is a pleasure that cannot last.   As soon as your new associates have been staled to you by custom, you will be looking for another ring.

The quest for the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it.  But if you break it, a suprising result will follow.  If in your spare time, you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside, that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which,  seen from without,   might look exactly like an Inner Ring.   But the difference is that its secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and noone was led thither by the lure of the esoteric, for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do what they like to do.   This is friendship.

What we seek to establish and strengthen are friendships.   Inner rings are unavoidable, necessary, and often innocent wholesome groups.  It’s our desire to be admitted for the sake of being “in” and our pleasure at others’ exclusion that ushers in evil.

So, remember that the people sitting with you are likely the most interesting, kind, passionate people at the conference.   And when you find, perhaps unawares, that a cozy inner ring has formed, be thankful for the gift of true fellowship, which never has exclusion as its’ touchstone.

See you at Blissdom!

Thank you Ruthanne for introducing me to PW’s photoshop actions (used on the above photo).  I see an ‘inner photography ring’ in our future.  Anyone else wanna join?

33 comments on “The Lure of the “Inner Ring””

  1. Beautifully put. It can be overwhelming to be at such a large conference and feel like a “little fish in a big pond”. While many are fretting over what to wear and if anyone will know them I just look forward to meeting new friends, catching up with old and enjoying my time surrounded by women who “get” me.

  2. “And when you find, perhaps unawares, that a cozy inner ring has formed, be thankful for the gift of true fellowship, which never has exclusion as its’ touchstone.”

    Could not have said it better… thanks for the reminder and the growing excitement to enjoy Blissdom!

    Hope to hug your neck!

  3. Edie, I have come to learn (in all of my many years – HA!) that most women I know feel like they are on the outside. So even women I think are “in the ring” don’t think they are or feel like others are instead. I really can’t wait to meet everyone and even though there are some I “know” better and may gravitate toward, it doesn’t have to mean anything more than finding comfort.

  4. Edie,
    This post was fabulous. Thanks for bringing a little CS Lewis to my morning and perspective to all of the blogging conferences that are upcoming. I absolutely loved the lesson here. Have a great time at Blissdom, I hope to be joining everyone next year.

  5. Great photo, Edie. 🙂 I loved the excerpt you shared today. Going to Blissdom would be a dream come true for me, but I also know that once I got there, I’d probably revert to my wallflower tendencies. I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful time!! 🙂

  6. Don’tcha just love CS Lewis? His way of thinking is amazing.

    For me, breaking the quest for the ring has been a gift of adulthood. Now that we’re no longer in that high school ring system, we are free. I have found myself surrounded by the most wonderful people! I hope that I can pass this knowledge on to my daughter so that the quest doesn’t have to break her heart.

    Have fun at Blissdom. Maybe someday I will join you all.

  7. I can only imagine how intimidating a conference like Blissdom can be. It is a dream to someday attend and if and when I do I will remember the inner ring.

    I hope you have a wonderful time.


  8. I love when you write a post like this…we’re all familiar with the “inner rings!” It’s wonderful to have an inner circle of kindred hearts to share life with, but it should never happen at the expense of someone else.

    Love,Love,love the reminder to check out those that God puts on our path all the while enjoying the comforts of dear and deep friendships that already exist for us.

  9. I love this post and I’m going to have my 11 yr. old son read it. I don’t want him to read it because he wants to be on the inside, but because I want him to see how wise he is already becoming. See, he loves baseball and has been playing on a select team for 2 1/2 years, but this year (a week ago to be exact) he told me he didn’t want to play anymore b/c he didn’t want to be around the kids that are on his team– the inner circle in his life. He has seen their group for what it is and he’s happy not to be a part of it so much so that he has removed himself from them.
    Thanks for the post and have a ball!!!

  10. Love the post – always good to hear when you have found yourself outside an “inner ring” a few times in your past, and were left wondering “what is wrong with me?”

    Ah – PW actions. I started there, and now have sourced interesting actions from all over the place – welcome to the entrance of the rabbit hole 😉

  11. Pingback: Blissdom Time
  12. Inner ring..clique…….some people want to hang out with only the big bloggers and while they aren’t to your face mean, they exclud you, ignore you and make you feel like crap because well………you’re not a big blogger so you’re beneath them.

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