a new thing

When I am leading a session I often discourage those in the group from taking notes. Schools probably still teach that it is helpful to write while listening, but I’m not so sure.

At times I have encouraged students, if they have to have a pen in hand, to doodle while actively listening. While some might take up my suggestion for a while they usually return to default setting pretty quickly filling pages with words.

Most often these words do nothing more than duplicate the speaker’s script.

Recently on a weekend retreat one of the participants showed me the notes he had taken as I spoke. The theme of the retreat was “Behold I am doing a new thing, can you not perceive it.” Isaiah 43

His notes were mostly sketches he had drawn with a few key words added. While Robin’s drawings are impressive (the people present are easily recognisable in the drawings), I was most moved by the way he had not simply reproduced my words but related them to his own experience. This is a sure sign of active listening.

Robin is happy for me to share his work with you.

You can see more of Robin Hutton’s work at this Flickr link.

One Response to "a new thing"
  1. Thanks Fr John, very thought provoking, my current intentional practice is to avoid sinning until I at least exit the church following mass, and beyond if I can, I am constantly amazed at how hard that is without conscious effort! The more of an effort I make though the easier it becomes. Lord forgive me …

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