Small-Group Session (2 of 4)



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:

“You cannot imagine the craving for rest that I feel—a hunger and thirst. For six long days, since my work was done, my mind has been a whirlpool, swift, unprogressive and incessant, a torrent of thoughts leading nowhere, spinning round swift and steady” 
― H.G. WellsWhen the Sleeper Wakes


For the hunger and thirst for soul rest, let us quench and nourish one another with

our presence,

our listening,

and our time in this circle.


Brief Check-In

Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question.  The check-in question is: “What is on your mind and 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)


Focusing Question

After everyone has read the different statements, the leader asks the central question that will guide the session’s discussion: “What about Sabbath challenges you?  What resonates in your life? What commitments could rest allow you to fulfill?”


First Round

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


From the wisdom, we do not depart but are strengthened

From the story and courage, we remember our own calling

From this time, we realign for balance and stillnes.


Quotes for The Common Bowl


“I want to rest. I want to breathe quietly again.” 
― Tennessee WilliamsA Streetcar Named Desire


“Rest is essential, but during our periods of rest, we must think to ourselves that in resting we are renewing our energy to fulfill our commitment.” 
― Wu WeiI Ching Wisdom: More Guidance from the Book of Answers


“Bed is my friend. Just bed, he thought. Bed will be a great thing. It is easy when you are beaten, he thought.” 
― Ernest HemingwayThe Old Man and the Sea


“But it is not glorious lulls that concern me. It is the lulls that have no velocity, that offer no structured reassurance, that bloom unbidden in the middle of nowhere—when the work is done, when children leave, when illness comes, when the mind stalls. One does not ask of a lull: What can you do for me? These lulls do not have the quality of idyllic floatiness we associate with creative loafing, vacations, or leisure time. (If they did, we might fight them less readily and feel less personal distress.) These lulls carry a restive feeling, the throb of being simultaneously too full and too empty. They evoke what Jean Cocteau once described as “the discomfort of infinity.” What if we could imagine a lull as neither fatal nor glorious? What if a lull was just a lull?” 
― Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation


“Sometimes you just have to turn off the lights, sit in the dark, and see what happens inside of you.” 
― Adam Oakley


“Take a rest.  A field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”



“The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.”

-Sydney Harris


“Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.”

-Ashleigh Brilliant


“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.”

-Leonardo Da Vinci


I watch and I wonder and I think. I think of the old slavery, and of the way The Economy has now improved upon it. The new slavery has improved upon the old by giving the new slaves the illusion that they are free. The Economy does not take people's freedom by force, which would be against its principles, for it is very humane. It buys their freedom, pays for it, and then persuades its money back again with shoddy goods and the promise of freedom.” 
― Wendell BerryJayber Crow