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:
“I have outlasted all desire,
My dreams and I have grown apart;
My grief alone is left entire,
The gleamings of an empty heart.
The storms of ruthless dispensation
Have struck my flowery garland numb,
I live in lonely desolation
And wonder when my end will come.
Thus on a naked tree-limb, blasted
By tardy winter's whistling chill,
A single leaf which has outlasted
Its season will be trembling still.”
― Alexander Pushkin
Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question. The check-in question is: “How is it in your life right now? What do you need to share here that we can be present to you?”
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: “Have you felt desire in your life? Share an experience of living with desire and what you’ve learned from 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 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
Come close now as the flame nears it close,
Know in your heart
That the fire of the candle goes out,
But we burn on.
Quotes for The Common Bowl
“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you ought to prefer is to have kept your soul alive.”
-Robert Louis Stevenson
“As part of this process, the location of areas of exclusion in theology is one of crucial importance; for instance, poverty and sensuality as a whole (and not as separate units) has been marginalised in theology. A theology from the poor needs also to be a sexual theology, a theology of economics and desires that have been excluded from our way of ‘doing theology’ as a second act.”
― Marcella Althaus-Reid, Indecent Theology
“How we need that security. How we need another soul to cling to, another body to keep us warm. To rest and trust; to give your soul in confidence: I need this. I need someone to pour myself into.”
― Sylvia Plath
“You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.”
― Mick Jagger
“If you suffer and make your loved ones suffer, there is nothing that can justify your desire.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power
“But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise on your lips.”
― Kahlil Gibran
“Profound desire, true desire is the desire to be close to someone.”
― Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes
“What we all desire is the fullest, highest expression of ourselves.”
“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”