"Truth and Lies"
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:
We begin with the intention to speak truth;
And to listen for her words;
And to open our beings to the knowledge that we never will know her exactly.
Contain truth in this space or by our words
Or even metaphors.
And yet truth will move in this space--
But unable to capture.
May we know the presence and movement of such truth within us.
Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question. The check-in question is: “Do you have a joy, sorrow or check-in to share?”
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 do you discern what’s true? Are there different ways of knowing? ”
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
“Beauty is truth's smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror.”
We invite now the soul smile, for having born witness to truth and for welcoming her echo within us.
We extinguish our small light, but not the spark that persists in this truth,
Quotes for The Common Bowl
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner
Truth never damages a cause that is just.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
“In a room where
people unanimously maintain
a conspiracy of silence,
one word of truth
sounds like a pistol shot.”
― Czesław Miłosz
“The truth is always something that is told, not something that is known. If there were no speaking or writing, there would be no truth about anything. There would only be what is.”
― Susan Sontag, The Benefactor
“No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.”
― Barbara Ehrenreich
“Perhaps he is a fool or a coward but almost everybody is one or the other and most people are both.”
― James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room
“An unbelieved truth can hurt a man much more than a lie. It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable to our times. There's a punishment for it, and it's usually crucifixion.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”
― Galileo Galilei
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life