Typical Weekly Session
“Welcome to our group! We’re meeting together in order to learn practices that will inform and form our lives. (“Life Skills”) Our group intention is to cultivate an atmosphere of safety, compassion, and respect for each individual’s unique experience and contribution.”
“We know you are already present to us, O God, so we ask you to enable us to be equally present to you, to each other–and to ourselves. We consent to your work in us. As we learn new practices, may we be delivered from the ‘pace, power, and priorities’ (Villodas) of our world.” (60 seconds of silence)
This is not a Bible study or a counseling session. Our time together is as much about “unlearning” as about learning. The approach may be unfamiliar at first, so give it some time. It works!
–Come to the group with an expectation of learning something new and helpful.
–Keep your sharing at the “I” level–make it personal (what you think or feel), not preachy (what you think others should think or feel).
–Please keep the focus on your own experience.
–Resolve to practice patience and exquisite tenderness toward others.
–Stick to the topic, and avoid controversial comments.
–Refrain from commenting on, correcting, advising, or offering solutions to the person who is sharing (No “fixing.”)
–Be sensitive to how many times you share, and for how long. We may have a large group at times. Let others have their turn.
–Hold what you hear in confidence. Help us keep this a safe space for everyone.
Specific to on-line meetings:
–Mute your microphone when you’re not sharing so as not to distract others.
–Please don’t make video or audio recordings of our meetings.
–Keep your background as non-distracting as possible.
–Mute your microphone when you’re not sharing (even if you’re home alone).
A Spiritual Exercise for this Topic (Colliers)
This will be something different each time (most weeks).
Week One: orientation and introduction to “skills/practices”
“. . . everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” Jesus in Mt. 7:24, 26
[oftentimes] ” . . . Buddhism presents itself as a way of life, and Christianity presents itself as a system of belief.” Brian McClaren
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Training means arranging life around those activities that enable us to do what we cannot do now, even by extreme effort. Significant human transformation always involves training, not just trying.” Dallas Willard
“You do not have to do these things–unless you want to know God. They work on you, not [God]. You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require it nor demand it.” Annie Dillard
*Do any of these quotations affect you (encourage, surprise, confuse, challenge, disturb)? Can you explain your response?
*Can you pick a quote that is important to you, and attempt to explain its main message to the group?
*What would you say about a life of faith and spiritual “practices” after this discussion?
To consider for later:
If you had to explain to someone what a Christian is, what would you say?
Did your answer mostly emphasize ideas and beliefs, or behaviors?
Is your experience of the life of faith more about “trying” or “training?” Does what you’re doing seem to be working?
**These are notes for a Life Skills discussion that starts in the evening on Tuesday, February 1, 2022. If you think you may in interested in joining this weekly discussion, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll send you a link. (The discussion will be based on the book Wisdom From the Margins.)