Thank-you for considering being part of the Wondering Together Project! The Wondering Together Project invites your family, classroom, or group to come together once a day to check in with each other using the same five questions in the same order.
Together, you all pick the place and the time that works best for you, and just listen to each other.
I hope you will enjoy it and find it valuable but not everything works for every family, classroom, or group. So, if it is not enjoyable or helpful, that is good for me as a researcher to hear about, too. I welcome feedback about your experience whatever it may be. That's how we will improve the practice!
Ready to get started? Go for it and email me if I might help answer your questions, send you a Wondering Together stone, or cheer you on!
Carve out 10 minutes (it may take a little less … or a little more) each day. Gather together in a place and a way that fits into your life. (At a table, on a daily walk, getting ready for bed, any regular gathering time.) Try to use the same space and time of day once you find what works well for you all.
Set aside any “digital distractions” so that these ten minutes together are peaceful and you can really listen to each other. Some light a candle, dim the lights or do something else to make this short time together feel special but you don’t have to!
Have someone ask the first question on your Wondering Together stone or printed questions.
“I wonder what part of today you liked the best?” Some may have just a word or two to share while others may tell a short story. Just listen to one another. Everyone always has the right to pass.
When everyone has answered the first question, ask the second one: “I wonder what part of today was the most important part?” Allow everyone to answer with a phrase or a short story. The remaining three questions work the same way.
"I wonder when you felt most alive today?" (alternate question for groups with younger children "I wonder when you had the most energy today?")
The fourth question, "I wonder what part of today you would have liked to leave out?"
The last question is, "I wonder how you are feeling in this moment?" Perhaps a word is all each person needs here.
Close your Wondering Together time by thanking one another. You could bow to each other silently, high five each other, blow out a candle if you lit one, share a hug depending on the nature of your group. Take turns at who asks the questions each time.
Link here to a video introduction!
Here's an interesting trend with the WTP. In the original research, some families (the original research was only with families) who got off to a great start described a "muddle" two-three weeks into their WTP. The practice seemed to get harder. Interviews suggested that the "muddle" was actually that those families were deepening their sharing with time and experience. Coming together now felt more important and meaningful. This "muddle" was a challenge for about half the families that participated.
By the next week, that "muddle" feeling of "do I really want to do this?" passed. At the end of the research month, every family who completed the WTP chose to continue in some form!
My advice - if you hit the "muddle" - stick with the WTP for a little longer and then decide if the wondering together practice is a good match for you. The experience of those who were in the research says you'll be glad you did!
And please let me know about your experience so we can make the WTP better! We welcome feedback on your experience.
A Bit About the Why of Wondering Together…
The idea for the Wondering Together Project (WTP) is a mosaic of some different areas of my academic research and my real life. My husband and I have two grown daughters so I know how much there is in just keeping it together as a family (pandemic or not!) and as a working adult (I am a former RN and Nurse Practitioner and a chaplain at present.) The Wondering Together Project sprang from things I learned from friends and work mentors, "wise ones," that have come into my life. Things like … simple rituals at home foster connection … everyone needs a way to process their day… a lot of us (including me) may feel “addicted to our phones” ... and the simple act of telling and hearing stories makes us more sensitive and empathetic people. So, I went back to graduate school to study this mosaic and the WTP ensued as my doctoral research project.
Wondering Together incorporates aspects of simple daily rituals and storytelling, allowing us to learn how to simply listen and be present for each other.
Here’s how I described what I wanted to study to my professors: If a family adopts a habit of communal Examen (an antique word that roughly translates to looking back upon your day), will the practice enhance their existential and spiritual lexicon? Let me restate this question in regular words, “If a family checks in daily when things are ‘normal,’ will that make it easier to talk about the big stuff when things get rough?” Wondering Together is not religious even though it is rooted in my experiences in family ministry. Rather, it is a simple daily habit that is built from questions that are so (deceptively) simple they can distill important things.
Interested in the research? Maybe you would like to review the final project paper! You can link to it here.
I learned this style of wondering about 25 years ago from Jerome Berryman and his Godly Play® method and am so grateful for how it models the importance of wondering together and listening deeply to one another, especially children. I am fascinated by how our brains develop, especially how stressors (for example excess screen time, food insecurity, life in general) overwhelm our brain circuitry. The telling and hearing of stories, whether from books or from real-life, connect people emotionally.
During the initial research, it was interesting when participants started to use the practice in other areas of their lives - at work, book club, and in professional meetings. Now the Kind Mind Social/Emotional Learning Curriculum has incorporated Wondering Together into their offerings for classrooms and families at home!
Please share your experience using this short form.
Website images from "All Together Now" by Laurie Fisher, Portland, Maine.
Graphic design for the Wondering Together Project's questions courtesy of Bridget Read.