Activity 3: Small Group Reflection, Testing Fuller
Activity time: 40 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers, and tape
- Participant journals
- Variety of writing and drawing implements
- Timepiece (minutes)
- Optional: Bell or chime
Preparation for Activity
- If participants may need journals, obtain notebooks with unlined pages. Gather a variety of writing and drawing implements.
- Prepare and post newsprint with these questions:
- Are there parallels between any aspect of Fuller's story and your own?
- Were you able to recover the feelings in your heart you had lost or were forbidden to feel? How?
- How did you feel after you had recovered you lost feelings?
- How would you describe the recovery of your feelings as a moral and/or a spiritual practice?
- Do your true feelings have anything to do with your personal sense of power?
Description of Activity
Invite participants to return to their groups of three and to share with one another the stories of losing heart and finding it again that they recorded in their journals at the beginning of the workshop. Explain, using these or similar words:
Each of you is invited to share your story of losing heart and finding it again while the other two listen and do not comment. Fuller believed that when we pay radical attention to our feelings and seek to understand what we feel, we can follow an internal path to the source of our sense of wellbeing: the divine spirit within each of us. After each story has been told, each of you is invited to offer personal insights only about your own story and personal insights gained by listening to the stories of others. You will have ten minutes.
Signal the group when time is up. Then, invite participants to use a similar process to share thoughts and feelings from their theology journal they wrote in response to Fuller's biography and the story of her mystical experience. Allow ten minutes.
Signal when time is up, and call attention to the newsprint you have posted. Invite participants to reflect on one or more of the questions-in silence or by writing or drawing in their theology journals. Allow five minutes.
Finally, invite participants to share with the other members of their group their thoughts and feelings based on all that has been said. What insights have they gained? On what do they now want to focus, in their own theological work, to more deeply understand the role of feelings in their religious lives? Remind participants to reflect deeply on their own thoughts and feelings and how they have been affected by listening to the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the other members of the group. Explain that this is an exercise in deep reflection and compassionate listening rather than an invitation to critique the feelings, thoughts, ideas, and experiences of others. Encourage participants to do this work as a spiritual practice of deep listening and deep reflection. Allow fifteen minutes.