Small-Group Session (2 of 2)
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:
“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.”
― Shannon L. Alder
Let us take up that task,
May we remind one another that we are not alone.
Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question. The check-in question is: “What if anything since we last met made you feel vulnerable, caused you injury or brought gratitude for being in community?”
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 ever struggled with shame? Have you struggled with telling your true story? Please share.”
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 love that is animated as holding one another’s story
Without fixing or fatigue
Without solving or shaming;
May that love that animates the core of our humanity
And engenders a collective evolution
Be ours in the days and weeks to come,
Until we meet again.
Quotes for The Common Bowl
“Human beings, whatever their backgrounds, are more open than we think, that their behavior cannot be confidently predicted from their past, that we are all creatures vulnerable to new thoughts, new attitudes.
And while such vulnerability creates all sorts of possibilities, both good and bad, its very existence is exciting. It means that no human being should be written off, no change in thinking deemed impossible.”
― Howard Zinn
“It’s the hard things that break; soft things don’t break. It was an epiphany I had today and I just wonder why it took me so very, very long to see it! You can waste so many years of your life trying to become something hard in order not to break; but it’s the soft things that can’t break! The hard things are the ones that shatter into a million pieces!”
– C. JoyBell C.
“Heroes are higher than their vulnerability. That is why they are heroes.”
– Amit Kalantri
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
– Hellen Keller
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”
– Crissi Jami
“There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be
no community without vulnerability; there can be no
peace, and ultimately no life, without community.”
–M. Scott Peck
“A person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn and not easily mended.”
― Ian McEwan
“What happens when people open their hearts?"
"They get better.”
― Haruki Murakami
“Real dishes break. That's how you know they're real.”
― Marty Rubin
“We are at our most powerful the moment we no longer need to be powerful.”
― Eric Micha'el Leventhal