Small-Group Session (1 of 2)
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:
Here in fragile bodies
With a few words to close the gap
We reside in the wonder of a circle:
No masks to hide our humanity.
The wonder of being together
Invited into the fullness of presence.
May we be courageous companions
Honoring the diversity of truth
And wisdom of experience
In this time.
Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question. The check-in question is: “What is something that is alive and real for you now that will help you connect to us if you share it?”
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: “Consider a time that you experienced your vulnerability. Please share and consider how this experience informs your understanding of the world.”
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
May the light we extinguish
Be brought forth into our being.
As beacons for the roads traveled
And the journey home.
Quotes for The Common Bowl
“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
― Madeleine L'Engle
“I have so much respect for the emotionally brave. The ones who put in the emotional work and take the real risks of being vulnerable and removing masks. It's easy to make chitchat, but it's hard to speak about what's really under the surface. It's easy to joke, but difficult to cry. It's easy to numb, but hard to feel.
Ironically the real victims of emotional laziness are the people themselves. They end up choosing their emotional comfort zones over happiness. So in the end, they may not be 'uncomfortable' anymore; but they are also miserable.”
― Yasmin Mogahed
“I mean, what is racism? Racism is a projection of our own fears onto another person. What is sexism? It's our own vulnerability about our potency and masculinity projected as our need to subjugate another person, you know? Fascism, the same thing: People are trying to untidy our state, so I legislate as a way of controlling my environment.”
“Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous.”
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
– C.S. Lewis
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
– Steve Jobs
“The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility.”
– Paulo Coelho
“All my life I have been haunted by the obsession that to desire a thing or to love a thing intensely is to place yourself in a vulnerable position, to be a possible, if not a probable, loser of what you most want. Let’s leave it like that.”
– Tennessee Williams
“Courage is vulnerability. Vulnerability is courage. Like shadow and light, neither one can exist without the other.”
– Wai Lan Yuen
“…and that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.”
– Audre Lorde