Session 3: Deeper Sharing
Notes for Leading
The third session is an opportunity to allow people to do something they have been wanting for some time, share their stories. These stories are meant to provide a starting point for relationship. As a leader, you set the tone, so lead with vulnerability as you tell your story. Inviting vulnerability to the table helps to dispelling the myth of the ‘perfect’ group, or perfect people that would enable us to be vulnerable.
Before the meeting:
- Send a reminder email. Make sure to remind them about engaging in the task they undertook for intentionally deepening last week.
- Invite them to consider how they want to tell their story next time you gather, see the guide below.
Preparation for Deepening : A Little About Me
Plan to spend about 7 minutes sharing a little about yourself with your group. Your goal isn’t to tell your life story, but it is to reach beyond surface details like work and hobbies.
One way to prepare for this is to make a list of people, places, and events that have influenced who you are today.
Once you have the list, circle a couple of items that are particularly important to you. Then consider these questions to help you think about what to share:
- How did these people, places, or events influence you?
- How do you think your life might be different right now without their influence?
- Is there anything you’d do differently regarding these people, places, or events? Why?
- Was courageous love present in these people, places, or events? If so, what did it look and feel like?
Finally, decide which of these topics you’ll talk about at the meeting. You can make notes and feel free to bring photos (prints or on your phone) to share.
Remember, you’ll only have 7 minutes to speak. They’ll go by faster than you think. You may or not have time for each of the items you circled.
Deepen Section: Opening
Chalice Lighting from Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen ‘Just Listen’
As you light a candle or chalice, read these words:
“I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. And especially if it’s given from the heart. When people are talking, there’s no need to do anything but receive them. Just take them in. Listen to what they’re saying. Care about it. Most times caring about it is even more important than understanding it. Most of us don’t value ourselves or our love enough to know this. It has taken me a long time to believe in the power of simply saying, “I’m so sorry,” when someone is in pain. And meaning it.
One of my patients told me that when she tried to tell her story people often interrupted her to tell her that they once had something just like that happen to them. Subtly her pain became a story about themselves. Eventually she stopped talking to most people. It was just too lonely. We connect through listening. When we interrupt what someone is saying to let them know that we understand, we move the focus of attention to ourselves. When we listen, they know we care. Many people with cancer talk about the relief of having someone just listen.
I have even learned to respond to someone crying by just listening. In the old days I used to reach for the tissues, until I realized that passing a person a tissue may be just another way to shut them down, to take them out of their experience of sadness and grief. Now I just listen. When they have cried all they need to cry, they find me there with them.
This simple thing has not been that easy to learn. It certainly went against everything I had been taught since I was very young. I thought people listened only because they were too timid to speak or did not know the answer. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well intentioned words.”
Invite each person to share their response to the reading: How does the reading ring true for you in your life?
Deepen Section: Accountability Check-In
Go around the circle and share about the deepening task each person selected to take up this week. What did you pick? What did you learn? How did it invite depth?
Deepen Section: A Little About Me
Share with the group that each of them will have about seven to ten minutes to share about their lives using the framework circulated the previous week. Note: It’s best to use a timer to keep everyone on track.
If you run out of time you, invite a volunteer to share next time.