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:


As we gather together

Remind us in the shadows of this light,

The magnitude of our reach.

By our words and our presence to one another,

May we offer ministry magnified by the strength not of our own creation

But arising out of our togetherness.


Brief Check-In

Invite each person, in turn, to share a brief answer to the check-in question.  The check-in question is: “Is there someone or something in your life that gives you strength and that you go to when you are struggling?”


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: “What is resilience and how do you become resilient?  We invite you to draw answers from your experience of the world and your own story.”


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.



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


Blessed are the hearts that can bend,

For the never can be broken.

-Albert Camus


May our hearts, and minds,

Our very beings find endurance in elasticity

And strength in movement.


 (extinguish chalice)

Quotes for The Common Bowl


Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.

-Pema Chodron


To win without risk is to triumph without glory.

-Pierre Cornielle


I think life is always dangerous.  Some people get afraid of it.  Some people don’t go forward.  But some people, if they want to achieve their goal, they have to go.  They have to move.

-Malala Yousafzai


It demands great spiritual resilience not to hate the hater whose foot is on your neck, and an even greater miracle of perception and charity not to teach your child to hate.

-James Baldwin


It must surely be a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit that even a small number of those men and women in the hell of the prison system survive it and hold on to their humanity.

-Howard Zinn


 Courage is resistence to fear -mastery of fear, not absence of fear.

-Mark Twain


“When we learn to respond to disappointments with acceptance, we give ourselves the space to realize that all our experiences—good and bad alike—are opportunities to learn and grow.” 
― Sharon Salzberg


Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, 

and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

-Christopher Robin to Pooh (by A. A. Milne)


The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.

-Ernest Hemingway


What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, 

pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson