Since Nov. 4, I have been part of an online journaling class. We're making our way through Joyce Rupp's Open the Door, a book that is organized into a three to five page chapter to read each day. Each chapter ends with a meditation and a prayer.
We were given a list of markers to buy: 4 specific colors and 3 black markers with tips of varying fineness/breadth. Our leader created a secret Facebook site, and each week, those of us who can meet in a Zoom session, which is recorded for those of us who can't be there or who want to go back to watch again.
We post our sketches. Some of us post daily. Some of us have rarely posted. I am posting daily. The Facebook group helps me want to sketch each day and post; I don't know if everyone reacts the same way.
Lately I've been thinking about how the sketching leads to deeper reading. I confess that if I picked up the book on my own, I'd have given it a quick read, skimming over a lot of it. But because I'm looking for entry into a sketch, I often go back. And I'm lucky in terms of my classmates: as with the best classes, someone will notice a nugget which will send me back to the text to see what else I might have missed.
I am often a skimmer of texts, not a deep reader. In some ways, that's a skill I've been proud of, a skill that got me through grad school and other arenas where I needed to get through massive amounts of texts in very little time. But in terms of personal growth/learning, it can be a detriment.
I have often been a note taker, but this is my first time sketching my responses to a text. I wonder which one leads to deeper involvement; it probably depends on many things, like the text itself, my mood, my daily life at the time (it's easier to take notes in many settings than to sketch, which involves markers and a sketchbook and the regular book), and others.
It's been interesting to think about these practices in terms of contemplation and meditation. I've participated in lectio divina, where we hear the text and ponder it and then hear it again. I've done a variation where we write instead of pondering, but I've never done it where we sketched. It makes me curious about the ways into our interior, especially about the ways I haven't tried yet.
I am using the term "sketch" loosely. Some of my sketches have specific elements, which are sometimes recognizable to others:
Some of my sketches have parts that are recognizable, like wings or eyes in a small part of a more abstract expression:
Some sketches are more words than sketches:
Some begin with swirls and go other places; some of that sketching just quiets my mind, but doesn't seem to lead to other insight.
There are other parts of this practice that I haven't done as much with, like experimenting with both sides of the paper.
It will be interesting to see how this practice evolves once the class ends; next week is the last week of class. I intend to keep sketching often through the week; I will carry my markers and sketchbook with me. I will also keep working my way through a book in the way that I've done. I like carrying the sketchbook in the book and keeping it nearby as a reminder of the deeper work that needs to be done.
I will miss my group. I wonder if I could create something similar in my church group. I wonder if I will stay Facebook friends with these online group members.