The Group

I led a discussion with about 25 leaders of service and faith-based organizations in a large urban center, as well as a few members of local and national media.

The Program

The theme of the discussion was faith and conduct in a diverse world. The participants convened solely for the discussion and the breakfast that preceded it. Three radio producers moved around the circle with microphones to record the discussion.


We began with the following opening exercise in pairs: "Think of a time in your life when you felt that a particular activity was called for from you. What was the activity, and how did you know it was called for?" 

We then read the Rumi poem aloud and began with the question of what life the narrator was encouraging readers to forget. We talked a good bit about how we know when what we're doing is right, and whether we know this because of a) what we feel when we do it, or b) what we see happening in the world on account of our activity. We also talked about the tone of the poem and wondered where the narrator's authoritative voice comes from, who it addresses, etc. I tried to move people to talk about specific activities in the world, but folks seemed to prefer to speak in general terms. We then moved to the Oliver poem and considered the imperative to "Make of yourself a light." After thinking about this imperative, and about the narrator's sense of not being needed, we concluded with a go-round in which each participant articulated a question they had.

Next Time

I would use these poems again, both together and separately. I would try even harder to find ways to move participants to speak in concrete terms about their activity in the world.

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