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:
Remind me of the silent promises
The yes I said to people who have come before me
And those who depend upon me
And even those uttered out to the great web of existence.
That I might live an embodied life.
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 has brought you joy and what has broken your heart?”
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 section below 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: “At the end of your life, what do you hope people will believe you embodied? How do strive towards that?”
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
Each moment, a movement from sinew to soul;
Each minute, a promise drawn in breath and being;
Each closing, an affirmation of the circle drawn
And a promise to carry forth into the world.
Quotes for The Common Bowl
“And so, we shall have to do more than register and more than vote; we shall have to create leaders who embody virtues we can respect, who have moral and ethical principles we can applaud with enthusiasm.”
—Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“True religion is living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness.”
“The first step in the evolution of ethics is a solidarity with other human beings.”
“Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership over that freed self was another.”
“Start changing yourself if you want to change life around you.”
“Let yourself become living poetry.”
“I am the now of then. I am the living embodiment of all my ancestors that came before me. They live in me.”
“It’s not hard to make decisions, once you know what your values are.”
“Here’s what I think integrity is: choosing courage over comfort. Choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy. And practicing your values.”
“Church is the place where you practice what it means to be human.”
—James Luther Adam