Our October Soulful Saturday was something new: a day with a focus on a particular area of work. Exploring ways of tuning in to deeper listening, there was a special focus on when we engage with others one-to-one - perhaps especially in a pastoral or therapeutic setting. 'Very informative and useful', 'encouraged', 'refreshed', 'affirmed', 'very welcome day... thank you': these are just some of the words used by those who came, to describe the day entitled 'I stop... to hear the second music', led by local writer, counsellor and workshop leader Julia McGuinness.
It was the kind of day that stays with you. Rich in content and presentation, and always gentle, the day was a guide to deeper listening - to ourselves, to another, to God. We were treated to variety: poetry, free writing, speaking and listening exercises, plenary conversation, consideration of helpful listening skills, exploration of different contexts for listening one-to-one, centring prayer, and prompts on how to follow up this day for ourselves. The notion of the 'second music' (from Annie Lighthart's poem) - that beneath what is happening we might tune in to what is going on - ran through the day. It's maybe possible to describe the day itself as a beautifully composed piece, which - like music - can linger and enrich our living, perhaps bringing about change. Those who were there considered that there might be change for them: 'a deeper acceptance of self...a better understanding of others', 'job change / career change', 'insight into avenues I can explore to develop skills', 'use of some ideas in my role'.
It was a generous day as Julia brought to it her experience: her wisdom as an experienced counsellor, her creativity as a writer, and her skill as a workshop leader. She found a way of engaging us whatever our own experience: whether we work in listening one-to-one or whether we were there simply because life involves listening. Thankful for it all, we hope she'll come again.
Believing that people need good places to find and offer accompaniment, Retreat House Chester is keen to offer ways of one-to-one listening in 2018. If you would like to be added to our mailing list for news on this, please get in touch.