Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Facing Death with Life: A Program for Adults

Activity 3: Readings from the Common Bowl

Activity time: 25 minutes

Introduce this activity using these or similar words:

As we reflect on death, dying, and grief in this program, we will practice deep listening to both our own inner thoughts and feelings and the thoughts and feelings of others. This exercise, developed by the Reverend Barbara Hamilton-Holway, invites us to read aloud and share quotes after drawing them from a common bowl. Some quotes are more heartfelt, some more spiritual, others more intellectual. The quotes with which you have the most connection may indicate your preferred comfort zone—heart, spirit, or head—when talking about death. Being aware of our own comfort zone may prepare us to honor differences in the group. Rather than bringing another into our comfort zone around the topics of death, dying, and grief, choose to listen and be with them in their own. Hamilton-Holway calls this “listening with the ear of the heart.”

Pass the bowl of quotes around the circle and invite each participant to pick one, read it, and pass the bowl. Allow time for silence in between each quote. If time allows, go around the circle a second time.

Lead a discussion using these questions:

  • Which quotes spoke to you and why?
  • There were quotes that talked about emotions surrounding death, quotes you might describe as spiritual, and quotes that talked about the facts of death. What kinds of quotes did you find yourself drawn to?
  • Were there quotes that made you uncomfortable?
  • Were there quotes that triggered memories?

Distribute copies of Handout 1, Quotes for the Common Bowl, and invite people to write memorable quote(s) in their journals or to write for a few minutes, reflecting on the experience with sharing quotes.