Monday, May 16, 2016

Focusing Attention through Sketching

Since returning from my retreat week in late March and early April, I have been experimenting with sketching during presentations--but not aimless doodling.  No, I've been experimenting with a form of lectio divina, that ancient way of listening and focusing upon a text.

First, some background.

At the Create in Me retreat, we did something a bit different.  Our bible study leader is the bishop of the Texas-Louisiana Synod of the ELCA.  Here is a picture of the Bible study portion:

As you can see, there were screens, which are ubiquitous these days.  But we got to watch an artist, Vonda Drees, respond to the Bible study.  Here's a close up:

And then came the Lectio Divina portion.  We had a slow reading, with long spaces between verses.  But it wasn't quiet, because Bishop Mike began life as a musician, so he played the piano, and Vonda continued drawing.  We could meditate, take notes, and/or draw.

On day 2, we had a more traditional Lectio Divina, although still with music and art appearing on the screen.  We had three readings, and we were asked to contemplate these things.  After reading 1:  what word or phrase leaps out at me?  After reading 2:  what is God saying?  After reading 3:  what is being asked of me, if I take it seriously?

I found it wonderful to have something beyond the spoken words to help focus my thoughts.  The music was grand and swelling, but based on hymns (mainly old spirituals) that I recognized.  The art
made me itch to pick up my own markers--I liked that it was a mix of image and word.

Did I have deeper insights?  I think that I did.  And if I didn't have deeper insights, I did find it easier to stay focused on the text for longer than I would if the words had floated by me and then I had silence.

I then experimented with sketching during my pastor's sermons.  I found that it helped me focus more on the message, and I've retained that message longer through the week.  Here's the message from yesterday's sermon:

On Saturday, I sketched while a group of friends had a rehearsal for a performance that they had on Sunday.  Here's that sketch:

I've also led a session for our more interactive intergenerational service that's a combination of church, Sunday School, and camp.  I wrote about it in this blog post.

All of these experiences make me think about taking this practice to other places.  I'm certain it could be interesting in certain classrooms--or maybe every classroom.  I also wonder about this practice during meetings.

Stay tuned!

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