Overall Outline of the Pathway Meeting

Duration: 2 hours

1. Opening Ritual (4-5 minutes).
       a. Defining the Sacred Space.
       b. Introducing the Brother Talk.
2. The Brother Talk (no more than 15 minutes).
3. The Brother Circles (about 1 hour).
4. The Witnessing Ground (about a half hour).
5. Closing Ritual

 

[--> = special emphasis]

 


1. Opening Ritual:

a. Defining the Sacred Space.

MY NAME IS ____________, AND I'LL BE DOING THE JOB OF SYMBOLICALLY HOLDING THE TALKING STICK FOR OUR MEETING THIS EVENING.

--> WE WELCOME ALL MEN HERE, AND WE ASK WHATEVER POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES THAT ANY OF US RECOGNIZES, TO ASSIST US WITH OUR WORK.

--> TONIGHT, WE ARE ENTERING OUR SPECIAL TIME AND SPACE, FOR US MEN TO WALK THE PATHWAYS ON THE COMMON GROUND TOGETHER.

WE'D LIKE TO BEGIN BY ASKING EACH MAN HERE TO INTRODUCE HIMSELF BY NAME INTO THE CIRCLE OF BROTHERS PRESENT FOR TONIGHT'S WORK.

(We'd like every man to say his name out loud so the whole group can hear it. We'd also like every man to say "I'm Bill or I'm John" So it's important for the Holder of the Stick to begin loud and clear: "I'm __________________".)

BECAUSE OUR WORK IS SACRED, AND THIS MEETING IS TAKING PLACE IN A SACRED SPACE, WE ASK EVERYONE HERE TO ENTER INTO TWO BASIC AGREEMENTS WITH THE OTHER BROTHERS PRESENT:

PLEASE RESPECT EACH MAN'S RIGHT TO PERFECT PRIVACY, BY AGREEING NOT TO REPEAT HIS NAME TO ANYONE OUTSIDE THIS MEETING, UNLESS YOU HAVE HIS EXPLICIT PERMISSION TO DO THAT.

AND, PLEASE RESPECT THE SACREDNESS OF WHATEVER ANY MAN SAYS, BY AGREEING NOT TO REPEAT OR DISCUSS IT WITH ANYONE OUTSIDE THIS MEETING.

b. Introducing the Brother Talk.

--> AS YOU KNOW, THERE ARE SEVEN PATHWAYS FOR OUR JOURNEY AS MEN, AND THERE ARE THREE CHALLENGES ON EACH PATH.

--> TONIGHT WE'RE WALKING ON THE PATHWAY CALLED:     (name it)    .

WE'RE WORKING WITH THE CHALLENGE ON THAT PATHWAY, WHICH CAN BE FOUND ON PAGE     (number)     OF THE PATHWAYS BOOKLET. IT BEGINS WITH THE WORDS     (read the first few words)    .

CAN WE NOW ALL READ THAT CHALLENGE AND THE ATTACHED QUOTATIONS OUT LOUD TOGETHER?

(The Holder of The Talking Stick then leads everyone present in reading the Challenge and its Quotations.)

THE BROTHER TALK ABOUT THIS CHALLENGE WE'RE FACING TONIGHT WILL BE GIVEN TO US BY     (name the man)    .


2. The Brother Talk:

(There is no prescribed formula for the Brother Talk itself. The only request is that you talk from your heart about some aspect(s) of the Challenge that really touch you.)

(The Brother Talk, must not last longer than 12 minutes. And the Holder of the Talking Stick should indicate when the limit is getting near.)

(At the end, the Holder of the Talking Stick might thank the giver of the Brother Talk and offer applause to celebrate what he's done. Then, he introduces the Brother Circle:)


3. The Brother Circles:

TO PREPARE FOR THE BROTHER CIRCLES, WE WILL LOCK THE DOOR TO SECURE THE SPACE FOR OUR WORK TOGETHER.

(The man designated should now lock the door to the space.)

WE ASK YOU NOW TO OBSERVE A MOMENT OF SILENCE TO GET CLEAR ABOUT WHATEVER FEELINGS TONIGHT'S CHALLENGE AND BROTHER TALK BRING UP FOR YOU.

(The holder of the Talking Stick now times 90 seconds. At the end of it, he says:)

--> IN THE BROTHER CIRCLE, WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO TALK OPENLY TO EACH OTHER ABOUT WHATEVER TONIGHT'S CHALLENGE AND BROTHER TALK BRING UP FOR US. IF WE WISH TO, WE CAN ALSO REMAIN SILENT.

--> PLEASE REMEMBER THERE'S ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO DO THIS. WHAT'S IMPORTANT IN THE CIRCLE IS THAT EACH OF US STAYS WITH HIS OWN HONEST FEELINGS AS MUCH AS HE CAN.

--> EXPERIENCE TELLS US THE SUREST WAY TO STAY WITH FEELINGS IS BY USING "I STATEMENTS" WHEN WE SPEAK. SO WE ASK YOU TO DO THAT.

IF YOU'RE COMFORTABLE WITH IT, WE ASK YOU TO BEGIN BY INTRODUCING YOURSELF BY NAME TO THE MEN IN YOUR BROTHER CIRCLE.

YOU'LL NOTICE THE CHAIRS THIS EVENING HAVE BEEN ARRANGED IN GROUPS OF FOUR. PLEASE FORM A BROTHER CIRCLE NOW BY TURNING THEM SO YOU FACE EACH OTHER.

(IF THERE ARE ONE OR TWO EXTRA MEN, PLEASE FORM ONE OR TWO GROUPS OF FIVE.)

(At this point, the Talking Stick Holder will probably have to give some signal for the men to form their groups.)

(Both the Talking Stick Holder and the Giver of the Brother Talk should now join a Brother Circle.)

(After the hour is up, the Talking Stick Holder leaves his circle and goes to the center of the room:)

THE TIME WE HAVE FOR THE BROTHER CIRCLE IS NOW AT AN END. TONIGHT'S WORK CAN'T BE FINISHED, SO WE JUST HAVE TO END IT.

WE'LL ASK YOU NOW TO END WHATEVER CONVERSATION YOU'VE BEEN HAVING BY ACKNOWLEDGING THE MEN IN YOUR CIRCLE BY SOME SIGN THAT'S COMFORTABLE FOR YOU.

(If some groups are slow about doing this, the Talking Stick Holder should say something to move them--maybe with humor.)

WILL YOU NOW TURN YOUR CHAIRS TOWARD THE CENTER OF THE ROOM, TO REJOIN THE WHOLE GROUP OF MEN PRESENT HERE TONIGHT?


4. The Witnessing Ground:

(When the men have settled down facing the center of the room [it shouldn't be a neat circle or anything neat]:)

--> ONE OF THE VITAL THINGS WE CAN DO FOR ONE ANOTHER AS MEN TOGETHER IS TO ACT AS WITNESSES--FIRST, TO WITNESS WHAT IS IN OUR OWN HEART, AND THEN, TO WITNESS WHAT IS IN OUR BROTHER'S HEART.

SO, FOR THE REMAINING TIME THIS EVENING, WE ASK THAT ALL OF US ENTER THE WITNESSING GROUND TOGETHER TO EXPRESS OUR COMMUNITY AS BROTHERS.

IF YOU'RE MOVED TO DO IT, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO STAND AND TALK ABOUT WHATEVER YOU WANT TO WITNESS IN YOUR OWN HEART--WHATEVER FEELINGS YOU WOULD LIKE THE OTHER MEN HERE TO WITNESS IN YOU.

AGAIN, THERE'S NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO DO THIS. WHATEVER FEELING YOU HAVE IS YOURS TO EXPRESS AND IT'S WELCOME HERE.

--> BUT, WHILE WE'RE ON THE WITNESSING GROUND, WE ASK YOU TO STATE YOUR FEELINGS BRIEFLY; AND WE ASK YOU NOT TO COMMENT ON, OR CROSS TALK WITH, ANYTHING ANOTHER MAN HAS SAID.

PLEASE SPEAK YOUR OWN FEELINGS. PLEASE WITNESS WHAT OTHER MEN FEEL.

(Acting as the M.C. for the Witnessing Ground is the most difficult job the Holder of the Talking Stick has to perform during the entire Pathway Meeting.)
That's because he must do nothing!
(Sometimes the men will fall all over themselves in their haste to speak. Other times, the pace will be slow, or very slow--and every "care-taking" anxiety about "filling in the silences" will come up.)

(It's important not to act on such anxieties by speaking up yourself [unless, of course, it's your totally personal statement you want to contribute to the Witnessing Ground], by trying to force the pace, or closing prematurely.)

(The test here is to trust the silences by allowing each man his own speed for developing what he wishes to say.)

(So, regardless of what is or isn't said on the Witnessing Ground, the next time the Holder of the Talking Stick speaks as the M.C. must be about five minutes before closing time.)

[[Exception: every so often, a man isn't clear about the no comment-no cross talk rule. And he will try to comment-- approvingly or disapprovingly--on what another man has said. This calls for delicate judgment because the goal is not to shame either man. However, the Holder of the Talking Stick must be clear that he must protect the space for everyone. So, in these cases, he should interrupt as gently as possible by asking the man to speak only of himself. Or, he should say "TIME" when three minutes are up, and repeat "UNFORTUNATELY, YOUR TIME IS UP," if the man persisits.]]

WE'RE NEAR THE END OF THE TIME WE HAVE TO SPEND ON THE WITNESSING GROUND TONIGHT. IF ANYONE WANTS TO SPEAK WHO HASN'T SPOKEN YET, THERE'S STILL A LITTLE TIME.

(Wait a few seconds--allowing one or two men more to speak.) (It's very important to respect the designated closing time.)


5. Closing Ritual:

OK. THEN, IF IT'S OK WITH YOU, CAN WE ALL JOIN HANDS ON THE COMMON GROUND TO CELEBRATE WHAT WE'VE ACCOMPLISHED TOGETHER THIS EVENING, AND TO PREPARE FOR RETURNING WITH WHAT WE HAVE TO OUR REGULAR TIME?

(After the circle or whatever ritual, it's probably good to end with a roar or applause, or any really "up" note to stir the spirit and celebrate what we've done together.)

Preparations for the Pathway Meeting:

The Meeting relies on two men to make it happen: the Holder of the Talking Stick (a literal talking stick is not necessary), who reads the Ritual; and another man prepared to give the Brother Talk.

Attendees can be many or few, since the breakdown into Brother Circles of four assures a reasonably intimate group for most of the Meeting no matter how many attend.

Any good sized, pleasant room which can be secured after the Brother Talk will work for the Meeting.

Before the Meeting begins, chairs should be arranged in clear groups of four. There should be a "fair distance" between the groups to allow the Brother Circles to form reasonably apart. There should also be a fair distance between the individual chairs, or the men won't sit four to a group.

When the men arrive, they usually don't sit in all four chairs of each group anyway. So, it's proven best to have a third man present who has the responsibility of locking the door after the Brother Talk, and helping the men form into Brother Circles of four.

Refreshments after the Meeting would be fun, and continue the spirit that's been established. However, probably not a good idea during the Meeting.


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