Activity time: 20 minutes

Welcome participants as they arrive and ask them to put on their name tags. Encourage them to chat over lunch. If anyone is new to the group, invite them to make a name badge and to take and decorate a journal. As lunch draws to a close, read aloud these words of Kathleen Fisher from Autumn Gospel:

The part of living that is opposite of connecting with others is solitude.

It isn’t the same thing as loneliness. Instead it is the opportunity we give ourselves when we both become more aware of our inner depths and yet retain our sense of unity with others. As we live we try to honor these alternating moments of solitude and community, to be fully present to others and yet not alienated from our own thoughts and feelings.

One woman describes this in terms of the spaces within her that are filled with the needs and desires and requests of others. For her, "Solitude is the interval in which she waits and watches for a return of her own self in those spaces." In this sense, solitude is a kind of boundary or limit which enables us to disconnect enough from our immediate surroundings to discover what we ourselves believe, know and value. We unify and deepen the self. It is an experience of freedom, the well spring of new and stronger directions… It is the basis of original contributions to the world.

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