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:
“An old meaning of the word 'restoration' is to find someone with a royal bloodline who has been removed from the throne and then restore the person to that throne - to a position of honor.”
In this brief time, here in this circle of lives each worthy and unique,
May we honor one another
And keep the circle whole.
Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question. The check-in question is: “What is present for you right now on your mind?”
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. (See additional page for quotes; these are the quotes that will be 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: “What does restoration mean to you? Have you ever witnessed restoration?.”
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 but the responses should not be attempts to fix a dilemma raised, correct someone’s feelings or .
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
We extinguish this light,
But not that which exposes the truth
Nor that which touches the inward turnings toward growth
Nor that which is the love that holds, heals and restores:
That light goes on in us.
Quotes for The Common Bowl
“This in essence is my goal. To set an example by doing what is good. If I live openly and honestly, I set an example of virtue, humanness, restoration, and healing. I give others permission to join me on my journey despite the fear of failure or the rejection it might elicit when they know they are not alone in their experience. The more of us who amass the courage to embark openly on this path, the more normal this experience becomes, effectively eliminating the tactic of shame and isolation that the enemy so often uses to cause us to falter.”
― Riisa Renee, Breaking the Silence
“Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
“In destitution, even of feeling or purpose, a human being is more hauntingly human and vulnerable to kindnesses because there is the sense that things should be otherwise, and then the thought of what is wanting and what alleviation would be, and how the soul could be put at ease, restored. At home. But the soul finds its own home if it ever has a home at all.”
― Marilynne Robinson, Home
“The doors have opened. Flower and song
Embroider ground and air, lead me
Beside the healing field that waits;
Growth, death, and a restoring form
Of human use will make it well.”
― Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems, 1979-1997
“The work of community, love, reconciliation, restoration is the work we cannot leave up to politicians. This is the work we are all called to do.”
“We're not a fragile people. We're not a frightful people. Our power doesn't come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way. We don't look to be ruled.”
“I restore myself when I'm alone.”
“America's present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but restoration.”
-Warren G. Harding
“Where do we even start on the daily walk of restoration and awakening? We start where we are.”