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:
Called by the vessel for appreciation,
Fill us to the brim this day
With the art of life.
The touch of beauty,
The sense of his voice,
And the scent of her presence.
Fill up this vessel of our being,
With the sounds of beauty unbidden
The glimpse of this gift,
Until here we remember
The beauty within.
Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question. The check-in question is: “How is it with your heart,, body, and mind right now?”
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 is beautiful to you? Where do you discover it?”
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
The beauty here in this circle.
The beauty within you.
The beauty of the world awaits your devotion.
Take with you the light of our faith to illuminate your way.
Quotes for The Common Bowl
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.”
― Dorothy Parker
“But he who dares not grasp the thorn
Should never crave the rose.”
― Anne Brontë
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”
“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting.”
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
“When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.”
“I believe in Liberty for all men: the space to stretch their arms and their souls, the right to breathe and the right to vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine, and ride on the railroads, uncursed by color; thinking, dreaming, working as they will in a kingdom of beauty and love.”
--W. E. B. Du Bois
“People often say that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder,' and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.”
“Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.”