Monday, April 16, 2018

Lessons and Inspirations from a Month of Groups

From early March to early April, I spent a lot of time in groups:  workshops, presentations, and all sorts of sessions.  Let me record a few times when I said, "What a great technique!  Let me remember this":

--At the AWP, I went to a session where it became clear that more of the audience had questions than the panel would be able to get to.  So close to the end, the moderator had each person state their question and then each of the panel presenters gave one closing remark.  I was surprised by how the questions all got answered.

This technique might be a good one even if time wasn't running out.  I noticed that it got rid of the tendency to bloviate.  We've all heard the person who stands up to ask a question, only they don't really want to ask a question, but to go on and on about their own opinions.  Having everyone state a succinct question got rid of that phenomena.

--At the Create in Me retreat, we had a group session along with times for small group discussion or silence for contemplation.  To call us back, our leader sang the simple song that he taught us at the beginning of each session. He sang it softly at first, to signal that we were at the end of time.  As each group/person came back to the group, the singing increased.  This technique allowed conversation/contemplation to come to an end without the crashing halt that can come with other ways.

--At the Create in Me retreat, we had a small worship service each morning.  There was a Bible reading, some liturgy, and some songs.  Each day, the liturgy remained the same.  I liked the repetition.  I thought about how often I've spent significant time creating a new experience for each day of a gathering.  But repetition has rewards too.

As I looked back through the notes I took during this month of meetings, I came across a writing prompt that seems perfect for our halfway point in National Poetry Month.  It comes from Amy Fryckholm during the AWP session, The Ganesh in the Room:

Open the Bible at random, and then do the same with another piece of literature, Shakespeare or Whitman.  See what emerges.

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