Weekly groups were a special, dedicated time for personal reflection…time that I wouldn’t have otherwise dedicated to matters of my soul (beyond Sunday worship). But I think the real power of the chalice circle is the community it brings together. The women in my group were phenomenal women (yes, in the very best Maya Angelou sense!) and I developed such warm, loving, respect for them and their journeys – and all that they shared. I think my heart just grew. I loved my first Chalice Circle so much I joined another, and would recommend it to anyone interested in having a more dedicated, communal spiritual practice.
I attended UUCB some years ago on special occasions and really believed in the focus and direction of the church. I came again to the church after the loss of my husband of many years, looking for community. Something led me to the Chalice Circle table and I signed up. As a member of my Chalice Circle, I enjoyed the very rewarding experience of getting to know others and the sharing of real and meaningful experiences and understandings with and about each other. That was last winter. Now I see my new friends at church and feel the warmth of their friendship. I just hope I was able to and can continue be able to be there for them as they were for me, in my continuing experiences with UUCB.
I have loved Chalice Circles from the very first one I joined, 5 years ago! I have been in one ever since, as for me, the small group ministry is more in keeping with how I like to relate: learning more about others as well as being able to share my thoughts, over time.
The format is so simple, yet so powerful. The gift of “listening appreciatively” to another person, and have the same done for you, can be profound. I am someone who has to pause at times, in the course of telling my truth, to let the inner dialogue catch up with how I am articulating what it is I am trying to say. So often, in school, leaving a silence gave the signal for someone else to jump in, and I was left with fragments of half spoken thoughts.
Some of my closest friends in the church, now, are those I have spent time with in Chalice Circles. I am now on my 6th! I am passionate about this program, relish the opportunity to meet new members as well as get to know longer term church members in greater depth!
I speak here mostly to the men in our congregation, or men who are “friends but not members” of UUCB, or men who have visited and are wondering whether to come back and what UUCB has to offer them. This is my focus here because, relatively speaking, many more women than men have participated in Chalice Circles and I would like to see that change.
If you have read this far on our website you now know what a Chalice Circle is and what it is not. All I want to add here is that I only started coming to UUCB about a year ago and joined in February. But from the very first, I joined a Chalice Circle. It was a small group, but its impact on me was huge.
Learning to listen deeply to others, without judgment and without planning what I was going to say about what I heard, was a very profound experience. Being able to share my own feelings/thoughts/experiences without fear of being judged, criticized, or given unsolicited advice, was just as profound. For me, as a male (and a retired lawyer) it was a frame breaking experience that enriched my life. I urge you to give it a try!