Monday, March 30, 2020

Learning in lockdown

A simple but effective tool for disciples is the learning circle.

Life is moving through chronological time between birth and death, when it is interrupted by a kairos moment, a time of heightened awareness of the moment, where time appears to stand still. This can be because we are having the time of our life, or because we are stuck in a fog of grief, or because a pandemic has led to the suspension of normal life and we are held in lockdown for our own safety and the safety of others. And this interruption, like an X on a treasure map, marks the place to dig.

The first step is to observe the situation carefully; then to reflect on our initial observations; making sure to discuss these with another person or persons whose judgement you trust, because we all have blind-spots. However, we are seeking more than sympathy, or even empathy. Together, we need to come up with a realistic plan of what we are going to do; ask that person or persons to help us by holding us to account to do what we have agreed; and then, act accordingly. This brings us back to where we began — hence a circle (the first hemisphere describes metanoia, or how we come to change our mind; the second hemisphere describes pistis, or how we begin to live differently as a consequence of this) — now equipped to move forward as one who is learning from life.

Here is an example:

Lockdown +n days. I observe that I am missing my friends. As I reflect on this, I realise that even as a profoundly introvert person, I need social connection; and perhaps to empathise with others in the same situation, including those who are more extravert in personality. So, we begin to discuss this online, via social media, sharing our experience, need for others, and desire to be there for one another too. Which is great, but of extremely limited help if that is as far as it goes. For one thing, those who feel isolated tend to isolate themselves further. What we need is to come up with a plan. Someone suggests a zoom party. The idea gets pushed back and forth a bit, needing someone to organise it, and others to commit to it, until a plan is hatched; along with the structure in place to ensure that it happens; and then it does. And, having happened, we can learn from that, too, and perhaps duplicate or adapt the plan, going forward.

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