"Miracles"

Small-Group Session (2of 2)

 

Set-Up

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:

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the
        water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
        with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer
        forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so
        quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the
        same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the
        ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

-Walt Whitman

 

Brief Check-In

Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question.  The check-in question is: “What have you carried with you this day, this week, perhaps this month?”

 

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)

 

Focusing Question

After everyone has read the different statements, the leader asks the central question that will guide the session’s discussion: “Part of experiencing miracles, is cultivating wonder.  What inspires you to wonder?  Where do you let yourself wander and explore?”

 

First Round

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.

 

Silence

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

 

“Give us the spirit of the child. Give us the child who lives within:
The child who trusts, the child who imagines, the child who sings.
The child who receives without reservation, the child who gives without judgment. Give us a child’s eyes, that we may receive the beauty and freshness of this day like a sunrise; Give us a child’s ears, that we may hear the music of mythical times; Give us a child’s heart, that we may be filled with wonder and delight; Give us a child’s faith, that we may be cured of our cynicism; Give us the spirit of the child, who is not afraid to need; who is not afraid to love.”

-Sara Moores Campbell

 


Quotes for The Common Bowl

 

“It may be that our cosmic curiosity... is a genetically-encoded force that we illuminate when we look up and wonder.”
-Neil deGrasse Tyson (scientist)
 

 

“From wonder into wonder existence opens.”
-Lao Tzu (philosopher)

 

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.” 
-William Blake (poet)

 

“This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love: the more they give, the more they possess.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke (poet)

 

“When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”
-Helen Keller (writer, advocate)

 

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”
Stephen Hawking (scientist)

 

“The Resurrection miracle is nothing to you and me if it is only an event of eighteen centuries bygone. Unless we can live the immortal life - unless we can receive God to his own home in these hearts of ours - the texts are nothing to us unless these daily lives illustrate them.”
-Edward Everett Hale (Unitarian minister and writer)

 

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” 
-Rachel Carson (scientist)

 

“We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.” 
-Ray Bradbury (author)

 

“I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.” 

-Alice Walker (author)