Continuing the journey conference is an open temporary community, creatively exploring continuity and tension between the world and church, nature and grace, psychology and theology.
A happy New Year to you on behalf of all the Planning Group.
Back in 1987 I spent many hours studying maps, and wrote a thesis on the impact of translating maps from paper to screens, way before things like satnav existed! I wonder when you look at a map, what do you see? Can you read it? Does it make sense? Does the landscape come alive in your mind or is it just lines and symbols? Does it make a difference whether it’s on paper or satnav? And what has this got to do with conference, you might ask
Well, planning for 2020 is well under way and, as we were discussing at our recent day away, I began to think about how we perceive things, how that changes over time, how we cope with change, difference, and what assumptions we make about what we see and about others? Whose directions do we follow? For me maps are a passion: they reveal a hidden treasure trove of information, guiding where I go, tempting me to go to new places. In many ways I think therapy and pastoral care can be like trying to decipher, understand and read a map: helping others to navigate their lives, identifying the assumptions, directions or events that have shaped life. As we journey with others so often we discover treasure within.
Old treasure maps often have in the corner a sign saying, ‘Here be dragons’, which identifies dangerous or uncharted territory. Conference is going to offer you the opportunity to explore what it means to venture into those areas for yourself or in your accompanying of others. In this and the following newsletters we’ll begin to unpack how we might do that. Today, we’ll reveal the theme, introduce you to one of our new planning group members and share the experience of one of last year’s participants.
I hope you’ll want to put the 2020 dates in your diary, tell others, and that you will look out for the booking forms later in the year.
Kim Gooding, Chair of Planning Group
A sighting on a canal path in East London!
HERE BE DRAGONS - Searching for treasure
An introduction to the “Continuing the Journey Conference in 2020”
“Here be dragons...” – the words in the corner of the ancient map, signifying uncharted and unexplored territory and the dangers that might lurk there. In our conference we seek to offer the time, the space and the community within which to explore those areas of life where we suspect both dragons and treasure may be found, in the hope that the encounter will prove creative.
Whilst we are human, there will always be uncharted areas of our ‘selves’ that have not had a chance of being aired either by chance or by intention as we naturally suppress what seems frightening. So the image of a map can help us explore our desire to seek transformation to a Christ-like expression of our humanity.
As is so often the case, the journey of exploration can be more important than the intended destination, as so much can be learned in the process of travelling. We might discover that even our intended destination can be wrongly marked on our supposed map, forcing us to change our plans but perhaps allowing a new and more glorious outcome.
A part of the prayer of Francis Drake:
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
(words attributed to Sir Francis Drake -1577, Dragon sighted in South Wales)
We trust that this conference will enable us to be prepared to look at some of the more difficult areas (the storms) that we face with courage and the conviction of God’s presence and guiding, in an atmosphere of safe, loving acceptance by our brothers and sisters. It is a chance to retreat from the rush of modern day life to reflect, explore, be nourished and have some fun.
Each of our speakers will tackle their subject from one of the following perspectives: - Theological/biblical, psychological/therapeutic, social/pastoral or spiritual. The conference will include plenary sessions, workshops and small group work as well as daily worship.
We may feel that we are adventurers or castaways (or possibly a bit of both). But from our safe harbours and our stormy seas we shall come together to pause and to reflect, to play and to worship, to think and to relax together, as the journey continues...
Hugh Stradling joins the planning group
I first was encouraged to attend the Continuing the journey conference by my spiritual director who felt it would be an enjoyable adventure for me! I came alone that first time in 2014 but was soon absorbed into the large circle of brothers and sisters that attended. It was my first real exposure to that group of people who had been somewhat frightening for me in the past – psychotherapists – but I soon discovered that they were actually human too! But the conference had so many from a great variety of
backgrounds – clergy, doctors, counsellors and carers from all sorts of professions. What a joy to see them all mix and accept each other where in the past there might have been quite different attitudes to the different backgrounds.
I found that each part of the conference gave me a new slant on what I already knew. It broadened my thinking, challenged some narrow thoughts, all within an atmosphere of loving acceptance of where I was on my individual journey. This was new to me as I had met some fairly rigid thinking in past experience, but so freeing.
Following the joy, I experienced at that conference I was determined to encourage my wife, Tricia, to come the next time. The next conference with us both there was just as good and we felt it was one of our best shared experiences and were sure of making it a regular event in our Christian walk. The 2018 conference did not disappoint either. The worship, the small groups and the chance to cross-fertilize ideas and discover other new experiences was so very refreshing.
But then came a crunch moment. I think it was three people who put me into a virtual half nelson. I was being encouraged to join the planning group for the 2020 conference. Me? What had I got to offer for something that was already superb with great people already running it? I really could not think how I could help. Talking to other planning group members got me no further. “Most of us only found out what we could offer after joining the group”. I finally agreed with a lot of doubts but the reassurance from those who had put on such a superb conference made me realise there are others from whom I could learn.
And what a lovely accepting group they have turned out to be. I feel welcomed and I want to contribute to the next conference as best I can. From the meetings so far, it is clear that there is so much broad thinking in the group and yet a clear vision of what is needed for effective ‘journeying’. I do hope you will come and discover the joy of conference for your selves.
Dragon found in Bangkok, Thailand 2018
Share and add to our Facebook page.... any dragon sightings!
I was delighted to hear of this conference, and I attended for the first time on personal recommendation. A whole week away was such a treat, and it enabled this (quote) ‘open, safe and temporary community’ to establish itself, relax into itself and flourish over the time together!
This was a perfect place to ‘be’, to listen, absorb, pray, to be challenged, to be enriched and refreshed and therefore to move forward..!
I do want to thank the organisational team for all their care and attention to detail, their clear information from the time of booking to the very end of the week - and their nurture and ‘holding’ of all of us throughout the week.
The venue itself was perfect, comfortable and spacious, providing excellent food, over which valuable conversations had time to be enjoyed.
I loved the rhythm of each day, and just felt so safe waking up each morning, after a good night’s sleep – looking forward to the day!
So we started each day with creative worship, with such beautiful and thoughtful words, and pictures – followed by excellent thought provoking speakers, then a varied choice of practical workshops on offer in the afternoons. (A highlight – the amazing creative poems we all produced!)
There was also valuable time for silence, and processing, as well as small nurture groups, challenging at times, but important.
It was also wonderful to let our hair down on Thursday evening, enjoying the outrageously funny, stand-up comedian, Paul Kerensa!
Our final session in the Chapel was an unexpected treasure trove of play and reflection – a true inspiration, and joy!
There was a great mix of people, friendly, authentic and all inclusive – it was a privilege to travel together, as well as to sit on the step and pause.. Bless you all!
from Jo Whitfield
‘An amazing week of connection and acceptance and friendliness and openness in this loving temporary community’