Tapestry of Faith: Spirit in Practice: An Adult Program for Developing A Regular Practice of the Spirit

Activity 3: Reflecting With A Partner

Activity time: 35 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Questions listed on newsprint or a digital slide (see Preparation)
  • Writing paper (at least one sheet per participant)
  • Pens or pencils (at least one per participant)
  • Clock, watch, or timer
  • Bell
  • Optional: Computer and digital projector
  • Optional: Participants' journals
  • Optional: Microphone (preferably cordless)

Preparation for Activity

  • List the following questions on newsprint or a digital slide: How and when do I experience the sacred? What mindsets and practices help me experience the sacred? What else would help me at this point in my spiritual development?
  • If you have more than one hour to present this workshop, review Alternate Activity 2 for ideas on how to expand this sharing experience to one hour in length.

Description of Activity

Explain that most of this workshop will be spent working with one another as "spiritual friends," peers who can help each other along the way.

Display the newsprint or digital slide with the three questions for reflection:

  • How and when do I experience the sacred?
  • What mindsets and practices help me experience the sacred?
  • What else would help me at this point in my spiritual development?

Invite participants to take five minutes to reflect on and write their responses to these questions. They can write in their journals or on paper you have provided. Explain that they will have the opportunity to share their responses with a partner later on in the activity.

After five minutes, ring the bell to draw participants' attention back to the leaders. Divide the group into pairs. (You can have participants form their own pairs, but using a random method to assign the pairings can yield some surprising synchronicities.) If you have an odd number of participants, then one of the leaders can partner with a participant.

Explain that each partner will get to be a "spiritual friend" to the other. Emphasize that the "friend" is primarily there to listen deeply to the other person and to respond as a helpful peer. Giving advice and deep analysis are not the goal. Rather, this activity is about "listening someone into their truth." This doesn't mean that the friend can't make any comments at all, but she/he should focus his/her energy on listening and should speak only those things which must be said.

Each person will have up to five minutes to share his/her responses to the three questions while the spiritual partner listens. The spiritual partner will then have up to three minutes to ask clarifying questions, share helpful ideas, and discuss the sharer's experiences further.

Remind the group of the workshop's ground rules, emphasizing respect and that the goal of this sharing is conversation, not conversion.

Ring the bell at five and eight minutes to signify when it is time for partners to move to the next phase of the exercise.

Invite partners to trade roles and repeat the exercise.

When the sharing has concluded, ring the bell and bring the group back together to discuss the experience. Affirm that this activity might have felt more or less comfortable to various participants, as some of us are introverts, some are extraverts, some have had conversations like this before, and some are just learning how to talk about their spiritual lives. Ask:

  • Have any of you ever done something like this before? In what context? Would you recommend that context to others for their spiritual growth?
  • What are some of the benefits of having regular check-ins with peers about our spiritual growth?
  • Could you see yourself engaging in this kind of dialogue with someone regularly?
  • What would hinder you in having this kind of dialogue? What would help you?

Conclude by sharing your perspectives on the value of spiritual friends. Thank participants for their reflections and sharing, especially those who ventured outside of their comfort zones to complete the exercise.

Including All Participants

If some pairs are having difficulty hearing one another, make another space available where they can talk. If two participants require American Sign Language interpretation and you have only one interpreter, pair up those participants. If you have more than two participants needing ASL interpretation, find a second interpreter to help. You may wish to pass a cordless microphone during the whole-group discussion so that participants can hear one another better.