Small-Group Session (2 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:
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. –Howard Thurman
Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question. The check-in question is: “How have you been doing 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)
After everyone has read the different statements, the leader asks the central question that will guide the session’s discussion: “What do you long for or hunger for in your life?”
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 settle the right answer.
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
Here spirit of life
Our memories and dreams,
Our aspirations and mourning-
Here spirit of life has danced in our midst
We honor this sacred time
The stories of one another
And the stories yet emerging.
Quotes for The Common Bowl
“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Marrying Martin and the movement perfected my journey of discovery, soothed my yearning to pour out the values and vision within my soul.”
-Coretta Scott King
“The absolute yearning of one human body for another particular body and its indifference to substitutes is one of life's major mysteries.”
“This is a great country, but fortunately for you, it is not perfect. There is much to be done to bring about complete equality. Remove hunger. Bring reality closer to theory and democratic principles.”
“We hunger to understand, so we invent myths about how we imagine the world is constructed - and they're, of course, based upon what we know, which is ourselves and other animals. So we make up stories about how the world was hatched from a cosmic egg or created after the mating of cosmic deities or by some fiat of a powerful being.”
“The god of love lives in a state of need. It is a need. It is an urge. It is a homeostatic imbalance. Like hunger and thirst, it's almost impossible to stamp out.”
“My morning rituals are typical. I wake up yearning for a few extra moments of rest. I express gratitude to a higher power for the breath in my body and the blessings in my life. I shower. I dress. I eat breakfast. I exchange laughter and words with my beloveds, embracing each other as we say our daily goodbyes.”
“There is a spiritual hunger in the world today - and it cannot be satisfied by better cars on longer credit terms.”
-Adlai Stevenson I
“But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay