"Freedom"

Small-Group Session (1 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:

Here freedom, come


Bring your loosened, tousled hair

Bring your words unplanned but spoken

Bring your wildness and ease


Let freedom begin in the house of the heart

And run through this circle

Carried as companion in this movement of life.

 

Let freedom live in this flame

And this flame dance in us.

 

Brief Check-In

Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question.  The check-in question is: “What do you need to be free from in our time together?  What could you release that would help you be here?”

 

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: “Where or when have you felt free?  How did it change you?”

 

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.

 

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

 

We fly out from this created circle

To the world that has continued in our gathering—

The world of possibility and longing

The world of crushing pressure and inequality.


We navigate this world with our own freedom from within

And a command,

Like the flame dances off the wick

To share this light,

This freedom

This love.


Quotes for The Common Bowl

 

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

 

“Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.” 
― Bob Marley

 

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” 
― Toni MorrisonBeloved

 

“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” 
― William FaulknerEssays, Speeches & Public Letters

 

“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.” 
― John SteinbeckEast of Eden

 

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” 
― David Foster WallaceThis Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

 

“I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.” 
― Kahlil GibranThe Madman

 

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. 
It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.” 
― Jean-Paul Sartre

 

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” 
― Audre Lorde

 

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.” 
― Maya AngelouThe Complete Collected Poems