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 us in the quiet of this time
The sounds of the earth;
How her soft and fierce rhythms live in us.
In our breath may we discover how to be in the fullness of our soft-bodied animal being
And yet how to discern to live in union once more.
Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question. The check-in question is: “Since we last met how is it with 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 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 are your values or beliefs about the earth? How do you live into these values? And where do you struggle?”
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
“Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”
May we discover how to sing and climb as we each and all ready for the great final dance.
Quotes for The Common Bowl
“The Crone, the Reaper... She is the Dark Moon, what you don't see coming at you, what you don't get away with, the wind that whips the spark across the fire line. Chance, you could say, or, what's scarier still: the intersection of chance with choices and actions made before. The brush that is tinder dry from decades of drought, the warming of the earth's climate that sends the storms away north, the hole in the ozone layer. Not punishment, not even justice, but consequence.”
“Try to leave the Earth a better place than when you arrived.”
“Sunlight fell upon the wall; the wall received a borrowed splendor. Why set your heart on a piece of earth, O simple one? Seek out the source which shines forever.”
“Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I think the kind of landscape that you grew up in, it lives with you. I don't think it's true of people who've grown up in cities so much; you may love a building, but I don't think that you can love it in the way that you love a tree or a river or the colour of the earth; it's a different kind of love.”
“It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth - and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”
“When we recognise the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection, love is born.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
“The vegetable life does not content itself with casting from the flower or the tree a single seed, but it fills the air and earth with a prodigality of seeds, that, if thousands perish, thousands may plant themselves, that hundreds may come up, that tens may live to maturity; that, at least one may replace the parent.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
“When we drop fear, we can draw nearer to people, we can draw nearer to the earth, we can draw nearer to all the heavenly creatures that surround us.”