Small-Group Session (2 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:
Restoration - Poem by David Taylor
dim light of cloudy storm
strong winds swept
drumming sounds of rain
dancing boughs of trees
blossoms beaten down
waves of raindrops
surge past in air
against an earthen shore
upon the sodden floor
rain falls in inky skies
just like tears
in dark and sorrowed eyes
heartfelt winters warmth
melting over life
restoring what was quietly lost
in the heat that dried
the waters from the land
where life watched
in growing sunlit times.
Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question. The check-in question is: “What would you like the group to know about you since we last met?”
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: “Is there something you hope to restore? Or something perhaps you wish could be restored, but don’t believe can? How does this change how you live?”
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
May the wholeness of restoration
The darkness of new growth
And the unfolding miracle of regeneration
Be within earth and each of us.
Quotes for The Common Bowl
“When my toes are sunk into warm sand and the ocean is lapping my feet, when I breathe in the scent of salt and hear the cry of a seagull, I know that I am returned to a place of restoration. I am home. I can heal here.”
“You resemble what you revere, either for ruin or restoration.”
“By salvation I mean not barely according to the vulgar notion deliverance from hell or going to heaven but a present deliverance from sin a restoration of the soul to its primitive health its original purity a recovery of the divine nature the renewal of our souls after the image of God in righteousness and true holiness in justice mercy and truth.”
“The children have been a wonderful gift to me,
and I'm thankful to have once again seen our world through their eyes.
They restore my faith in the family's future.”
- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
“Men who are occupied in the restoration of health to other men, by the joint exertion of skill and humanity, are above all the great of the earth. They even partake of divinity, since to preserve and renew is almost as noble as to create.”
“The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profits”
“For me, Art is the restoration of order. It may discuss all sort of terrible things, but there must be satisfaction at the end. A little bit of hunger, but also satisfaction.”
“I learn the depth to which I have sunk from the length of the chain let down to up-draw me. I ascertain the mightiness of the ruin by examining the machinery for restoration.”