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.
Walking in the Olympic Park here in East London, looking at the daffodils, listening to the children in the school playground opposite my home, soaking up the sun and enjoying the slightly longer days: spring is coming and with it glimpses of normality, though the daffs feel early! With it comes the hope of actually having the conference we began planning in 2018. This conference has turned out to be very appropriately named as we have journeyed into the unknown, navigating our way through the pandemic and all the resulting changes. As a planning group we’ve met on Zoom for the last two years, and it will be a real treat to be in the same room together with each other and with you.
In this newsletter we will introduce you to the latest change, which is that we now have two new speakers, taking the place of Julienne and Padraig, who are unable to join us. Peter Gubi will be familiar to many who come regularly; Paula Hall is new to conference. Both will introduce themselves and give you a glimpse of their plenary topics.
I’m delighted to say that bookings are now open and we have 11 spaces available, so please do consider joining us yourself and/or telling others.
I look forward to seeing you in May
Chair of Planning Group
Date of next conference:
23rd - 27th May 2022
We are nearly there, come and join us if you are able there are still places left! Click here to go to the booking form.
An interview with Paula Hall
Why did you accept the invitation to conference?
I haven’t been out for a very, very long time and you said I could stay the whole week!! No seriously, it’s true, like many, I haven’t been out for a long time but the reason for saying yes is that this is a conference that I have always wanted to attend but I have always had a diary clash. This was a sure way of ensuring I came. Interestingly that tells me something about my priorities, perhaps it’s easier to say yes to something when it’s work, (or sort of work) than it is to say yes to me time and self care. Mmmm – the journey has already begun!
What are your first impressions of conference?
Excited and frightened in equal measure, but perhaps that’s natural with words like treasure and dragons in the title. Having been a Christian and a psychotherapist for nearly 30 years, I’m thoroughly looking forward to an event where I can openly be both. But it’s a step into the unknown and hence I’m anxious about what I’ll find there, and I’m always anxious about public speaking, regardless of how many times I do it.
Here be dragons. . . searching for treasure - what first things spring to mind?
Addiction – and that’s also why I said ‘yes’ because the theme feels so appropriate to my work with people struggling with sex and porn addiction. As I’ll share in my talk, it’s never about the sex, it’s always about seeking some other kind of treasure; it’s always a deep desire for something else and sex and porn are substitutes. But as addiction takes hold, boy is that a scary dragon. It gets bigger and bigger, feeding off every part of someone’s life and burning down everything that an addict once held dear. It truly is soul destroying.
Do you have experience of venturing into unknown territory?
Have I mentioned I work in sex and porn addiction? When I began in this field about 15 years ago and started writing and speaking about it, it was very much ‘unknown territory’. I’ve taken a lot of wrong turns enroute and I dare say there’ll be more to come. But I’m passionate about the work I do and it’s been worth every moment. I have no doubt that God called me to this field and I have no doubt that the numerous wrong turns I’ve made in my personal life are part of the reason He called me.
What would you like us to know about you before you come to conference?
I’m really bad at public speaking and running workshops (lower their expectations Kim, that way they’re more like to enjoy it !!). Oh – and I sometimes have an inappropriate sense of humour and I have a tendency to get side tracked when I’m asked questions. I suspect this is a defence mechanism against being outed as an introvert with ADHD? Or maybe it’s a result of childhood trauma and unresolved attachment issues? Or just being a therapist? Perhaps the best thing for people to know is that I’m ‘a work in progress’.
A few dragon quotes from the past!
"Come not between the dragon and his wrath." William Shakespeare
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.” Revelation 12:9
“Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are guarded by dragons: we must fight in order to conquer it.” Alexandre Dumas
“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations if you live near him.” J. R. R. Tolkien
“Love is an emerald. Its brilliant light wards off dragons On this treacherous path.” Rumi
“My friends, it is wise to nourish the soul, otherwise you will breed dragons and devils in your heart.” C.G. Jung
An interview with Peter Gubi
Unlike our other speakers you regularly come to conference, what brought you in the first place and what keeps you coming back?
CTJ is a rare conference, or gathering of people, that brings together my interests in counselling, spiritual direction, reflective practice and Christian faith. It assembles people who have a like-minded interest in the integration of those things. Although there are many excellent workshops, I personally use the conference as a retreat – usually going to hear the main speakers each morning, and then having the rest of the day for me to, rest, reflect and just be on my own. I love the fellowship of meal times, and the space to write, walk etc. when I’m not with people. I particularly love facilitating the small reflective groups (but alas this year, as I am a speaker, I am not allowed to – but that gives an
opportunity for another to take on that role). All of these things, alongside seeing familiar faces who have become friends, keep me coming back.
Our theme is here be dragons..searching for treasure, what first sprang to mind when you read this?
For me, ‘dragons’ are things to avoid or at least tread carefully with/around. My talk is about things that we may take for granted in the Christian faith, but which need particular insight and careful ‘handling’ in the therapy room – but which nonetheless can become occasions of finding treasure.
Do you have experience of venturing into unknown territory?
Every time I work with a client in counselling, I venture into unknown territory. After 30+ years of counselling, I ought to be used to venturing into unknown territory, but it still fills me with slight trepidation and significant awe. I may carry the ‘maps’ of theory, and trust in my skills which are honed with experience, but what unfolds is unique to each individual although there is some commonality of experience with that of others, which brings some familiarity of the territory – but some unpredictability too.
What would you like us to know about you before conference?
Nothing, other than that I am an ordinary human being who is approachable and friendly, and who won’t use his intellect to put others down or make them feel stupid. Please don’t be intimidated by my role and qualifications. I am only too aware of how much about life (and especially your life) I don’t know – but don’t treat me as though I am a complete idiot, because I’m not.
ONCE THEY ALL BELIEVED IN DRAGONS
Once they all believed in dragons
When the world was fresh and young,
We were woven into legends,
Tales were told and songs were sung,
We were treated with obeisance,
We were honoured, we were feared,
Then one day they stopped believing --
On that day, we disappeared.
Now they say our time is over,
Now they say we've lived our last,
Now we're treated with derision
Where once we ruled unsurpassed.
We must make them all remember,
In some way we must reveal
That our spirit lives forever --
We are dragons ! We are real !
Dragon image - Carl Jung the Red Book
Where is your journey in life taking you?
There are currently a few places available at the conference, so you need to book quickly to get a place.
For those of you already coming, we would love you to bring any musical instruments you may play to join in with the worship group.