"Identity"

Small-Group Session (2 of 2)

 


Set-Up

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:

 “What we know matters but who we are matters more.” 
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

 

May we discover here a shift from knowing to being,

From right to connection

From defensive and distraction to listening and affirming

From I to we.

 

Brief Check-In

Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question.  The check-in question is: “What has been going on in your life since we last met?”

 

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: “As you consider yourself in the world, what is a moment or event that was formative in your identity?”

 

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.

 

Silence

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

 

“Ubuntu [...] speaks of the very essence of being human. [We] say [...] "Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu." Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, "My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours." We belong in a bundle of life. We say, "A person is a person through other persons."

[...] A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are.”


― Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness

 

So may we go forth to live, ubuntu


 Quotes for The Common Bowl

“We know what we are, but not what we may be.” 
― William Shakespeare

  

If

"If freckles were lovely, and day was night, 
And measles were nice and a lie warn't a lie, 
Life would be delight,-- 
But things couldn't go right 
For in such a sad plight 
I wouldn't be I.

If earth was heaven and now was hence, 
And past was present, and false was true, 
There might be some sense 
But I'd be in suspense 
For on such a pretense 
You wouldn't be you.

If fear was plucky, and globes were square, 
And dirt was cleanly and tears were glee 
Things would seem fair,-- 
Yet they'd all despair, 
For if here was there 
We wouldn't be we.” 
― E.E. Cummings

  

“I believe that true identity is found . . . in creative activity springing from within. It is found, paradoxically, when one loses oneself. Woman can best refind herself in some kind of creative activity of her own.” 
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh

  

Sadly, at a time when so much sophisticated cultural criticism by hip intellectuals from diverse locations extols a vision of cultural hybridity, border crossing, subjectivity constructed out of plurality, the vast majority of folks in this society still believe in a notion of identity that is rooted in a sense of essential traits and characteristics that are fixed and static.” 
― bell hooks, Art on My Mind: Visual Politics

  

 

“If you try to view yourself through the lenses that others offer you, all you will see are distortions; your own light and beauty will become blurred, awkward, and ugly. Your sense of inner beauty has to remain a very private thing.” 
― John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

  

“Ego loves identity. Drag mocks identity. Ego hates drag.” 
― RuPaul

  

“Here is the life you have tried to throw away. Here is your second chance. Here is the destiny you have tried to shake off by inventing a hundred false roles, a hundred false identities for yourself. It will look at first like disaster, but is really good fortune in disguise, since fate too knows how to follow your evasions through a hundred forms of its own. Now you will become at last the one you intended to be.” 
― David Malouf, An Imaginary Life

  

“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” 
― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

  

“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody." ... Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.” 
― Henri J.M. Nouwen

  

“Why not? It's true. My best hope is to not disgrace myself and..." He hesitates.

And what?" I say.

I don't know how to say it exactly. Only... I want to die as myself. Does that make any sense?" he asks. I shake my head. How could he die as anyone but himself? "I don't want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I'm not."

I bite my lip feeling inferior. While I've been ruminating on the availability of trees, Peeta has been struggling with how to maintain his identity. His purity of self. "Do you mean you won't kill anyone?" I ask.

No, when the time comes, I'm sure I'll kill just like everybody else. I can't go down without a fight. Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to... to show the Capitol they don't own me. That I'm more than just a piece in their Games," says Peeta.

But you're not," I say. "None of us are. That's how the Games work."

Okay, but within that frame work, there's still you, there's still me," he insists. "Don't you see?"

A little, Only... no offense, but who cares, Peeta?" I say.

I do. I mean what else am I allowed to care about at this point?" he asks angrily. He's locked those blue eyes on mine now, demanding an answer.” 
― Suzanne Collins, 
The Hunger Games