There is now a video of the workshop I facilitated in June that I mentioned in my last post, part of a conference entitled 'Creating Compassionate Communities of Inclusion'.
Check it out on youtube.
In June I had the privilege of leading a workshop as part of the Susanna Wesley Foundation annual conference. The workshop was entitled Facilitating Conversation that builds compassionate communities and was an introduction to a booklet that I've produced for the SWF called Diversity, Otherness and Privilege: a Conversation Guide.
The booklet is aimed to be a resource for small groups looking to ask challenging but necessary questions about how we connect with people who are different from us, and how we recognize both our challenges and our advantages in serving our community.
The workshop offered three characteristics of compassionate listening, which I described as 'bearing witness to the other person listening to themself'. ('Him/herself' is, I decided, more ungainly than 'themself'!) The three characteristics - briefly - are:
Generous listening - listening charitably so that people can start from where they are as they learn to build relationships with people who are different.
Attentive listening - listening without an intent to reply, setting aside thoughts of 'I know exactly what you mean, let me tell you what happened to me'.
Holistic listening - listening to the spaces between words, to what is left unsaid; paying attention to body language and gesture.
The description and characteristics owe a lot to learning about Quaker practices such as clearness committees. Parker Palmer writes about holding a space for another as like holding a little bird in the hand.
My description and characteristics reflect my desire to make space for emergent new connections to oneself and the other, and to resist limiting ourselves and labelling each other.
We tried out two listening practices:
Timed turn-taking - in threes, each person took a turn being speaker, listening, and timekeeper. Each speaker had seven minutes to speak about how the idea of privilege plays out in their life, while the listening paid attention. If the speaker ran out of things to say, the trio kept silence together until the seven minutes elapsed.
Talking stick - indebted to my incomplete learning about indigenous North American practices during my Restorative Justice studies, the talking stick (or stone) is passed around a group of 5-6+ and only the person holding the stick or stone can speak, while the others listen. Groups talked about how the notion of privilege plays out in their faith traditions or worldviews, in beliefs and practices.
Each of these practices balances space with boundaries and can be a good way to equalize voices in a group. So, I pass along the wisdom I've received for anyone to use. Contact me if you'd like more information.
I'm doing a thing. Each day of December on instagram I'm posting a scribble suggestion.
Scribbling breaks your hand free of the muscle memory of daily life, and is 'unproductive', so it helps break you free of the muscle memory of thoughts and explore new paths. So why not give it a go this December. Some thoughts before I post the list of prompts:
1) Take as little or as much time as you have (unless suggested otherwise). No need for fancy materials. I’d only encourage you to not scribble on an electronic device and to try to scribble rather than draw - i.e. not intentionally forming shapes or images.
2) The list is sort of daily prompts - the more time-consuming prompts are on the weekends. But do the same one every single day if you want, combine them, whatever floats your pencil. I’ll post prompts daily on instagram, and the full list is below.
3) Take photos of your scribbles. Tag them #scribblemas. Let us know which techniques were kind of meh for you, and which made you smile. Keep them all as a record for yourself to compare at the end.
4) Above all, in this season of busyness and tiredness, play. Play like you did when you were a small child. There is no right or wrong. There is no such thing as a bad scribbler. You have permission.
I've always liked to make things - beyond what is here are other creations, usually on instagram. These days I'm as interested in the making as I am in the things; perhaps more so. Making is a way to connect - it opens a line of communication with your soul, and so it pays to be attentive while making. A lot of my images, as they emerge, end up with faces or figures in them, which keep me company. More than a therapy, making without a plan or purpose helps us listen to ourselves and, then, to others.
I like to scribble a lot, for these reasons, and to play. As adults we so rarely play in any area of our lives - we push our brains and bodies so hard against their grain in our busy lives, and it can seem wasteful, unproductive. And yet it's essential we give time for our brain and body to operate in this carefree way. Certainly discipline is important, but so is play.
Carrying that attentiveness to process over into life, we begin to notice synchronicities - uncanny coincidences - and we become more present as we go about our lives. We learn to not frame our conversations and experiences too soon, but to let them emerge and speak to us, to keep us company.
I may post more here when I notice some of these uncanny coincidences. Or ways to try and play at making.