Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Spirit of Life: An Adult Program on Unitarian Universalist Spirituality

Alternate Activity 3: Healing Circle

Part of Spirit of Life

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • The Unitarian Universalist hymnbook Singing the Living Tradition
  • Singing the Journey: A Supplement to Singing the Living Tradition for each participant
  • Optional: A piano, a guitar, or another instrument for accompaniment

Preparation for Activity

  • Obtain copies of Singing the Living Tradition and Singing the Journey: A Supplement to Singing the Living Tradition.
  • Review Hymn 352, "Find a Stillness," and Hymn 391, "Voice Still and Small" in Singing the Living Tradition. Decide which hymn to learn and lead or recruit someone else to lead. If you prefer, choose another hymn that many of your participants already know.
  • Review "Go Now in Peace," Hymn 413 in Singing the Living Tradition. Learn the hymn well enough to lead it, or recruit someone else to lead it.
  • Review "Comfort Me," Hymn 1002 in Singing the Journey. Learn the hymn well enough to teach and lead the first verse, or recruit someone else to teach and lead it.
  • Arrange for musical accompaniment, if you think your group will need it to learn or sing a hymn.

Description of Activity

This activity works well in a group with a high level of trust. It is not recommended for groups that are just getting to know one another.

Distribute hymnbooks. Invite participants into a time of quiet. When the group is settled, invite participants to join you in singing Hymn 352, "Find a Stillness," or Hymn 391, "Voice Still and Small," both from Singing the Living Tradition, or another song you have chosen.

Teach the group Hymn 1002 from Singing the Journey, "Comfort Me." Explain that the group will sing the first verse of this hymn to affirm each participant who brings his/her joys, sorrows, or concerns into the healing circle.

Gather participants into a circle. Ask each person who shares to wait until many others have shared before sharing again. Invite participants to call out joys, sorrows, or concerns as they feel moved. After each sharing, sing the first verse of "Comfort Me."

Allow enough silence to ensure that all have shared who would like to. Then, invite participants to sing the verse one more time for all the joys and sorrows spoken and unspoken.

If the group is comfortable with touch, you can invite participants in the circle to rise as they are willing and able. Invite all who want to receive the touch of hands on their shoulders and the singing of the group to come to the center of the group. Direct the participants remaining in the circle to place their right hands on the shoulder of the person standing next to them, and gently place their left hands on the shoulders of people in the center. Repeat the first verse of "Comfort Me," or lead the group in another song you have chosen.

Invite participants to join hands to form one large circle. Offer closing words that express thanks for this time together, for the sharing, for the healing thoughts and care. You may wish to close by leading the group in singing Hymn 413 in Singing the Living Tradition, "Go Now in Peace."