How about this for a monthly leadership meeting?
Council Meeting, July 2012
To begin, we lit a candle. Lighting the candle designates our space or circle of friends as unique; holy or sacred, if you like. The light of the candle is always changing and always the same. The flame changes as it consumes, converting gas into heat and light. The flame remains the same in shape, size, location, and color. The light of the candle is like the presence of God – always changing, always the same.
We then each received a gift from the group – the gift of ‘nonjudgmental listening’. Only one person speaks. No questioning or commenting. An hourglass (a four minute sand timer) is passed around to guide the time, giving each person two to four minutes of speaking and silence (and something to hold and look at to ease anxiety when necessary). Roughly thirty minutes later, the sand timer had circled the group, arriving back into the hands where it began. With the candle still burning, the glass bulbs of sand would orbit once more with the same instructions, only this time responding to the questions, “What do you notice is happening in our community, our church? How are things going?”
Another thirty minutes passed before we moved to the business of boilers and human resources. At the end of the evening, as the night air cooled and the fans quieted from being switched to slower speeds, the lights were dimmed, leaving the room aglow with the light of our solitary candle (the same candle we have used for each of our six monthly meetings thus far). A voice spoke gently, but with the ease of familiarity, “May the peace of all peace be mine this night.” A slow and easy cadence of voices followed, one by one, in no particular order, repeating, “May the peace of all peace be mine this night.”
When all who needed to speak had spoken, we all stood hand in hand, and listened,
“The peace of the Father be yours this night,
the peace of the Son be yours this night,
the peace of the Spirit be yours this night,
the peace of all peace be yours and to all whom you love,
this night and every night and forevermore.
*adapted from the Ita Compline of the Northumbria Community (http://www.northumbriacommunity.org/).