Tuesday, August 19, 2014

7. It's Not Too Late (We Make the Road by Walking)

Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about a time when you almost gave up, but are glad you didn't.

3.  What are some critical issues in today's world — or in our personal lives — when we might say "It's too late" or "It's impossible"?

4.  What makes you laugh?  Why do you think Sarah laughed in this story?

Activate

5. Try saying "It's not too late" when you're tempted to be cynical or give up.  Or practice the art of "the second laugh."  The first laugh comes as a reflex when we think something is impossible.  The second laugh comes as a choice when we laugh at our lack of faith.

Meditate

6.  After a few moments of silence, complete this sentence as your prayer:  "Living God, it's not too late to change my mind about . . . "

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Eighth Step ~ How Should We Speak to One Another?

Questions

1.  "Plato described dialogue as a communal meditation ... [and believed] each participant should make a place for the other" (p. 132).  How does this view of dialogue fit with current social discourse?  How do we move toward this ideal?

2.  "Confucius always developed his insights in conversation with other people because in his view we needed this friendly interaction to achieve maturity" (pp. 132-133).  What do you think he means by this?

3.  What habits do you bring to personal and professional discussions or arguments?  Do you make a "place for the other" or simply try to advance your argument?

Actions

1.  Read through Armstrong's questions on pages 141-142 to help you analyze and be more mindful of the way you approach discussions and arguments.

2.  Observe how you speak to others.  Observe how those around you speak to each other and to you.  Notice when your own emotions and reactions arise in each situation and how they affect your interactions.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

6. Plotting Goodness (We Make the Road by Walking)

Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about a time when you observed or participated in a group that saw itself as blessed to the exclusion of others rather than for the blessing of others.

3.  Where in today's world do you see people practicing the kind of "otherly" identity to which God called Abram — "us for the sake of others"?

4.  How does helping someone make you feel?  (Better, according to my face-to-face group's discussion, is this question:  Tell us about a time when someone helped YOU.)

Activate

5.  Look for opportunities to "be a blessing" to others this week.  Share a story about what you did.

Meditate

6.  In silence, hold this truth in God's presence:  I am blessed to be a blessing.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

5. In Over Our Heads (We Make the Road by Walking)

"Celebration" by Tom DuBois
Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story where you felt like someone at the top of the pyramid, or like someone at the bottom.

3.  How do you respond to the comparison between stories and scientific theories, or to the distinction between factual and actual truth?

4.  Have you ever known a bully, or have you ever been a bully, or have you ever been bullied?  Tell us about it.

Activate

5.  Look for moments this week when it might be appropriate for you to say, "God must be better than that."  And look for examples this week of the powerful exploiting the vulnerable when it might be appropriate for you to say, "We can be better than that."

Meditate

6.  Ask yourself, in God's presence, "What desire to acquire may be driving me into trouble?"  After a few moments of silence, acknowledge the desires that come to mind.  Then ask for other, better desires to replace the desire to acquire.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

4. The Drama of Desire (We Make the Road by Walking)

Competition
Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about your interaction with someone you were jealous of or considered a rival.  What did they have or desire that you desired?  How did your relationship play out?

3.  How do you respond to reading the Philippians 2 passage as a reversal of the Genesis 3 passage?

4.  How do you feel when you win or lose in a game?  How do you feel when you do better or worse at something than someone else?  Tell us a story about it.

Activate

5. Be especially sensitive to revalry this week.  When you feel it, ask what "desire to acquire" is driving you.  And ask whom you are imitating in this "desire to acquire."  In this way, seek to become more aware of the Cain and Abel struggling in your own life and heart.

Meditate

6.  After a few moments of silence, let one emotion rise to the surface and express that emotion to God — and, if you'd like, to your companions, with a brief explanation.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Seventh Step ~ How Little We Know

Questions

1.  Armstrong writes, "When we cling to our certainties, likes, and dislikes, deeming them essential to our sense of self, we alienate ourselves from the 'great transformation' of the Way, because the reality is that we are all in continual flux, moving from one state to another.  An unenlightened person, [Chinese philosopher and mystic] Zhuangzi explained, is like a frog in a well who mistakes the tiny patch of sky he can see for the whole; but once he has seen the sky's immensity, his perspective is changed forever" (p. 122).  How do you interpret this lesson?  How might you put it into practice?

2.  Discuss what Socrates meant when he said, "The unexamined life is not worth living" (p. 129).

3.  Discuss the concept of the mystery of life that was underscored in this chapter.  How does acknowledging and honoring the mystery of life and of each other contribute to our capacity for compassion?

4.  Do the exercise on page 129, "conducting a debate in which everybody argues for a position that is the opposite of what he or she believes.  Then discuss your experience."

Actions

1.  Follow the three steps Armstrong lays out on pages 128-130.
"First, think about those experiences that touch you deeply and lift you momentarily beyond yourself so that you seem to inhabit your humanity more fully than usual" (p. 128).
"Second, stand back and listen to the aggressive certainty that characterizes so much of our discourse these days" (p. 128).
"Third, spend some time trying to define exactly what distinguishes you from everybody else" (p. 129).
2.  Added by Bonnie from page 130):  "Make a serious attempt to pin down precisely what it is that you love about your partner or a close friend.  List that person's qualities:  Is that why you love him?  Or is there something about her that you cannot describe?During your mindfulness practice, look around your immediate circle:  your family, colleagues, and friends.  What do you really know about each and every one of them?  What are their deepest fears and hopes?  What are their most intimate dreams and fantasies?  And how well do you think they really know you?"

Saturday, July 19, 2014

3. A World of Meaning (We Make the Road by Walking)

"Creation reveals wisdom through its patterns" (p. 12).
Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about a time when you lived by the logic of rivalry, compliance, or meaningless mechanism.  How did that work out for you?

3.  Imagine and describe what your life would be like if you chose to live more by the logos of love than you do now.

4.  Is there a movie that you like to watch again and again?  What about it makes you want to keep enjoying it again and again?

Activate

5.  Share with someone this week — a family member, a friend, a coworker, or an acquaintance — the idea that we all live by a certain logos or logic.  Ask them which logos they see to be most powerful in today's world — rivalry, compliance, meaningless mechanism, or love.

Meditate

6.  Observe a few moments of silence to imagine yourself living more fully in the logos of love.