Small-Group Session (1 of 2)
Before the session starts, the leader should set chairs in a circle, with a chalice and matches on a small table in the middle, or somewhere visible to participants. Make sure the strips of paper for “Readings from the Common Bowl” are in the bowl. Welcome people, and allow folks to settle before lighting the chalice.
Chalice Lighting and Opening Words
The group leader lights the chalice (or asks someone else to) and then, with the intent of creating sacred space, reads the following words:
For everyday miracles—
The surprise of life in its tenacity,
Crocus in bloom
Oak against the winds
The emerging bear
And your own life vessel
Despair, heartbreak and disappointment
Yet still strength and love…
For everyday miracles,
And kindle the light of our faith
To illuminate yet one more,
This circle, now gathered.
Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question. The check-in question is: “Where has life surprised you since we last met? What are you noticing?”
Readings from the common bowl
The leader passes around the bowl, with strips of paper that have quotes on them. Invites each person to take one strip/quote out of the bowl. Then, invites each to read the quotes. They don’t have to read in order, one right next to the last one. But instead, invite them to allow some silence after every quote, and then to see if the quote they picked out of the bowl should go next or not. (The quotes for the common bowl appear further down on this page in their own section. These are the quotes that will be cut or torn into separate strips, and put in the bowl before the meeting)
After everyone has read the different statements, the leader asks the central question that will guide the session’s discussion: “Have you ever experienced what you would call a miracle? Where has life pleasantly surprised you?”
Leader invites attendees to take no more than 2 minutes to share a response to the question. Find a way to gently hold the group to the no-more-than-2-minute limit. Also, let people know there’s no cross-talk to the responses: group-members don’t answer the statements people make. One person speaks for oneself, then the next person does the same. It’s not a conversation, so much as a series of statements. Again, each with some silence or space between. And, again, voices don’t need to go in order, with people sitting beside each other speaking—just as the spirit moves.
After hearing everyone’s statements, the leader invites the group to sit in silence for 2-3 minutes. This is not time for them to plan what they’ll say. It’s time to sit and be present, to let whatever comes up, come up.
Second round, reflections on what was heard, with additional thoughts
Whereas in the first round, attendees were encouraged to stick to their own thoughts, here in the second round, people can respond to some of what they heard. Again, encourage brevity—whether a formal 2-minute limit is enforced or not, encourage the conversation to move from one place to another in the circle, not getting dragged down to one or two voices who speak at length. It’s OK for people to respond to each other’s comments.
Likes and wishes
The leader asks for people to share, as they’re moved, what they liked about the session, and what they wish for next time, that they may or may not have experienced this time.
Closing Words & Extinguishing the Chalice
Gift me the spirit of wonder
To find anew the world I have known.
Gift me the spirit of wander,
To travel beyond my home.
Gift me the spirit of gratitude,
To take note of this miraculous life.
Quotes for The Common Bowl
“Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle that one does not dissolve in one's bath like a lump of sugar.”
“Don’t ask for miracles. You are the living embodiment of all the miracles in the world.”
“The miracle of light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and of water, shining and slowly moving, the grass and water that is the meaning and the central fact of the Everglades. It is a river of grass.”
-Marjory Stoneman Douglas
“No gasp at a miracle that is truly miraculous because the magic lies in the fact that you knew it was there for you all along.”
“Be realistic: Plan for a miracle”
“Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive - that you can touch the miracle of being alive - then that is a kind of enlightenment.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
“I did not want to be a tree, a flower or a wave. In a dancer's body, we as audience must see ourselves, not the imitated behavior of everyday actions, not the phenomenon of nature, not exotic creatures from another planet, but something of the miracle that is a human being.”
“The miracle lies in the newness of a morning.”
-Lailah Gifty Akita
“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?”
-Henry David Thoreau