Last night was the first meeting of the small nurturing group of which I am a part from the Growing In the Light spiritual formation group of Nashville Friends Meeting. We have 5 people in our group. We met from 7-9:30 at the meetinghouse. It was wonderful. We all enjoyed it so much that we decided that we don't want to wait a full month to meet again so we're getting together October 8th.
As this was our first meeting, we talked a little about the general outline of the meeting and how it would unfold. We started with a few minutes of silence and then I (as the initial facilitator) read a query about where we are in our individual lives and where God is. At that point, some folks spent a little time writing out their commitment to the group and others sat in silent worship.
After letting folks have about 10 minutes to write, I suggested that we center into silence and then asked if anyone wanted to speak first. We then took turns being the focus of the group. The person who's turn it was would talk about their response to the query, their spiritual "history" or whatever else they felt moved to say for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes I would gently suggest that the person allow the group to respond out of silence. As the person was speaking, we participated in active listening and when we spoke out of the silence, we continued to focus on the person, asking questions or repeating back things that we heard which seemed deep, heavy or important. At the end of the second 10 minutes I would ask the group to hold the individual in the Light for a moment and then move to the next person.
At the end of the speaking, we all went around and read our commitments to the group out loud. Some were more elaborate and detailed, some were basic and 'too the point' but they all said how we will make our group a priority and keep what is said in the group confidential.
We then decided on our next meeting. During this discussion, I said that I would like a name for our group so I can refer to it as something. Someone suggested "Gill" (don't know why that name) and I immediately thought "There is a balm in Gill (ead)". It works for me, so I'm thinking of our group as Gill. Or maybe Growing In Light=Gil. Yup, I bet that's it.
I said that we need a closing ritual and one person suggested a song and so we stood together in a circle holding hands and singing a round. I think we were all moved to be part of something so intimate and loving. We're all in a place in which we are willing to open ourselves up to the loving scrutiny of others so we can each grow and develop in God's light. This is a frightening and exhilarating moment. I feel well loved and supported and I'm very thankful to have this group of people to support me on this journey into the unknown.
There is a balm in Gilead,
to make the wounded whole,
there is a balm in Gilead,
to heal the sinsick soul.
Sometimes I feel discouraged,
and think my work's in vain,
but then the Holy Spirit
revives my soul again. Refrain