“Giving and Receiving"
Small-Group Session (1 of 2)
“Giving and Receiving”
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 it is in giving that we receive.”
― Francis of Assisi
Gracious God of Our Understanding
Call within me the consciousness to perceive the gifts I’ve received,
And the awareness of the life around me to which I can give freely of my life;
So may I receive wisdom,
So may I live.
Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question. The check-in question is: “Since we last met what is an important gift you received and something you gave to someone or the world?”
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: “How has giving changed your life? How has receiving from others shaped who you are?”
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
“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”
― Kahlil Gibran
May the joy of the world that can be together companion you until we meet once more.
Quotes for The Common Bowl
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
― Charles Dickens
“I must be willing to give whatever it takes to do good to others. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me, and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.”
― Mother Teresa
“Giving generously in romantic relationships, and in all other bonds, means recognizing when the other person needs our attention. Attention is an important resource.”
― bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions
“Speak the truth do not become angered and give when asked, even be it a little. By these three conditions one goes to the presence of the gods.”
― Gautama Buddha
“You often say ; I would give , but only to the deserving, The trees in your orchard say not so , nor the flocks in your pasture.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and nights is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream. See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver , and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life-while you , who deem yourself a giver , is but a witness.”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
“It's the same struggle for each of us, and the same path out: the utterly simple, infinitely wise ultimately defiant act of loving one thing and then another, loving our way back to life... Maybe being perfectly happy is not really the point. Maybe that is only some modern American dream of the point, while the truer measure of humanity is the distance we must travel in our lives, time and again, "twixt two extremes of passion--joy and grief," as Shakespeare put it. However much I've lost, what remains to me is that I can still speak to name the things I love. And I can look for safety in giving myself away to the world's least losable things.”
― Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
— Nelson Mandela
“It is the heart that does the giving; the fingers only let go.”
— Nigerian saying
“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.”
— Maya Angelou
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
— Mohammed Ali