It was lovely to see the group gather from many different places, sharing news of their different weather.  This opening exchange was designed to ground us and place us geographically, in preparation for the ‘map’ element of the workshop.  Our discussion went on to consider the effects of global events that are causing us concern, the need to think differently and to share within our communities. These are reasons to find new ways forward, and participants shared their views.

We began by considering five quotations from writers whose thoughts about ways of moving forward and the future gave us different ways of thinking about how we might each approach the topic.  The first was about Snufkin, ‘wanderer, explorer and philosopher’ from a Scandinavian children’s book, Finn Family Moomintroll, which required a brief introduction.  This conversation led to 6 minutes’ unshared writing in response to a personally selected quotation to ease the participants into a creative flow.

We moved on to read aloud the poem ‘Map’ by Linda Hogan and quickly identified the layers of meaning and differing significances for members of the group.  Each reading prompted an awareness of resonance in other lines.  We wrote, then, in response to a choice from the suggested prompts and shared the writing in breakout rooms.

The final exercise was led by a quotation from Rumi, ‘As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.’  We were turning our attention to a gaze towards the future. After reading aloud ‘Finisterre’ by David Whyte, we shared how we each interpreted the poem and ideas that were arising.  Participants wrote in response, which they then shared in pairs in breakout rooms. When we gathered afterwards in the plenary, we heard of moving reactions and deep thoughts.

The final poem was read aloud as a gift for our departure, as a gentle wind to carry us each forward.

Moving Forward

The deep parts of my life pour onward,
as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now,
That I can see farther into paintings.
I feel closer to what language can’t reach.
With my senses, as with birds, I climb
into the windy heaven, out of the oak,
in the ponds broken off from the sky
my falling sinks, as if standing on fishes.

Rainer Maria Rilke


Dr Clare Scott

(Image by Jens Johnsson – Pexels)