Listen to the Spirit… adapt as needed…
stay longer where you are drawn…
“Those of great heart and set on fire with zeal to follow Jesus…will not only offer themselves entirely to labor for such a mission, but will act against anything which would make their response less total.” – Spiritual Exercises #97
Suggested Song: The Story by Brandi Carlile
Grace to seek/ask: to cultivate deeper listening to create space for genuine community…
Please share for a few minutes about how you are doing, based on the following questions:
- Since the last time we’ve met, what has given you life or drawn you closer to God?
- What has drained you of life or drawn you away from God?
- Please describe any significant encounter with God in prayer, service, or relationship with others.
Introduction to Spiritual Autobiographies
We’ve been spending the past few meetings getting to know each other a bit and becoming more familiar with CLC. Beginning with the next meeting, we’ll have a chance to move into a different mode of sharing to help us more deeply get to know each other and how God has been moving in our lives. Throughout the next few months, each of us will prepare to share the story of our spiritual history up to now for about 15-20 minutes of the meeting. This way of describing one’s life and relationship with God is often called a “spiritual autobiography.”
You are welcome to share either verbally and/or with aids such as written outlines, pictures, or diagrams. You might like to begin or end with a song that illustrates your spiritual journey or conclude with a prayer instead. Begin your preparation by asking God for the gift of seeing your life as it is, through God’s “eyes” and “heart.” There are no adequate criteria to describe one’s spiritual journey. Hence there is no “right” or “wrong” way to share. The back of tonight’s handout (“Active Listening & Spiritual Autobiographies”) has some suggested questions to help us prepare. Let’s take a look at it together silently for just a minute…Does anyone have any questions?…Is anyone willing to be the first to share during our next meeting?…At the end of the meeting, we’ll try to figure out our schedules to plan when each of us will share (or we can figure out our schedules now…).
Focus Exercise: Active Listening
To better prepare ourselves to create an atmosphere of openness and trust when we share our spiritual autobiographies, we’ll spend some time tonight trying to become more aware of how we listen to each other. Let’s read the “Active Listening” side of the handout together and then do the exercise at the bottom…
Now that we’ve each had a chance to listen and be listened to, let’s reflect on and share our experiences together
Listening and Sharing
- What was your experience like of trying to actively listen to your partner? What feelings or thoughts arose? Was there anything you found particularly difficult?
- What was your experience of being listened to? What feelings or thoughts arose? How might it have felt differently (or not) from being listened to in the past?
- What might help you in the future to more deeply listen to God and others?
These are questions that allow community members to listen to and share about what is moving within them after the focus exercise. Specific questions about the focus exercise can be included here, but facilitators may choose to approach this time differently, such as with more open ended questions, etc.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or similarities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
- What stays with you? What do you hope to return to in prayer at another point in the week?
Thank you to those who hosted the meeting. Thank you everyone for being present and participating. Let us remember and lift-up one another in prayer, especially for any special intentions which may have surfaced through our conversation tonight.
Remind everyone about the date, time, and place of the next meeting. If you didn’t establish who will share their spiritual autobiography first at the next meeting, do so now. Encourage the facilitator for the next meeting to look at meeting 2.02 (Sharing Our Stories) to see how the meeting will be structured. If the group would like to start praying together outside of the meetings this week, see the “2.02 Personal Prayer Outside the Group” page (or view a PDF version here: “Personal Prayer Outside the Group”).
Write a prayer that fits the meeting or ask if anyone from the group would like to offer a spontaneous prayer.