In Holy Listening, we seek to listen for the whisperings of Spirit speaking through scripture, through other people, and through our own inner small voice. Participants value the compassion that grows when we seek to appreciate other viewpoints, the shared wisdom, and the sense of spiritual connection that is often experienced. Here is how the Holy Listening Circle works.
Every week, you receive by Wednesday an email message informing you of the scripture-in-focus for the next Sunday, which the person designated as host for the week has selected from the revised common lectionary. Thus you have a few days to read and reflect on the scripture in advance. The zoom link to participate in the Circle arrives on Friday or Saturday.
People who choose to reflect on the scripture in advance may do so in various ways and with varying levels of knowledge about the bible. One way which does not require you to have any particular knowledge is to read the text a few times and let it sink in; then, notice what phrase or image catches your attention and explore it; finally, ask yourself what is going on in your life that made this item stand out, and ask yourself what you are being called to pay attention to. Making a few notes to yourself can help the process.
When we gather on Sunday morning, the host leads an opening prayer, gives a brief introduction to the scripture-in-focus and reads it aloud. Then the tech support person puts everyone into randomly composed small groups to share with each other their responses to the scripture or to the host’s introduction. Each group has a designated facilitator to run it; at the end the facilitator leads a closing prayer and benediction.
During the sharing of responses, the facilitator invites each person in turn to speak. While a person speaks, everyone else listens without interrupting, questioning, arguing or expressing any kind of agreement or disagreement; the focus is fully on listening. In a second round of sharing, the facilitator invites each person to share what was evoked in them during the first round. Whenever it is your turn to speak, you have the option to pass and just continue listening; you are under no obligation to share.
The name Circle was originally adopted when people would gather chairs into a circle for a sharing time. Today the Circle is conducted via ZOOM, but the same principles of non-hierarchical participation continue to be observed. The Circle is organized and led by a team of about twelve people who take turns in fulfilling the various roles of host, group facilitator and tech support and meet periodically to fine-tune the process.
The Circle is live and in the moment. Recordings are not provided, and tech support disables the recording feature in ZOOM to prevent accidental recordings being made. As well, meetings are locked shortly after they commence in a further effort to provide safe space.
To put your name on the mailing list to receive invitations to the Circle, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Holy Listening Circle is sponsored by Harcourt’s Spiritual Life Committee.