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A Wild Winters Walk

The retreat being closed this November has meant that I've had time to catch up on myself from the weirdly busy summer. And I have finally created the reflective walk I’ve been thinking about for the last few months. I wanted something that would use the beautiful wild spaces that we have here; the fields, woods, labyrinth and garden (though it’s not meant to be quite this wild!) I also wanted a walk that people could enjoy elsewhere around the country or world! (Liz, Miriam, Sharon) in their own socially distanced and mindful way.

Our dog sitting in the field between two stone walls.
Neo reflecting on his walk through the field.

On trying it out for me this week, here’s what our friend Barney Barron had to say.

“I took time out this morning for a reflective walk ... I was so uplifted by the opportunity to connect with nature and the divine, it truly felt like a thin place between heaven and earth. Thank you Naomi for your creativity and your generous hospitality.”

My mum and dad said; "Having different 'stations' helped, and the idea of something physical to pick up, carry and then let go".

On the walk, I invite us to take time out of our organised life to be in a slightly wilder, less ordered but more open place. So that we can think about the idea of winter, in a continuation of the ideas of hibernation from last month's blog. To think on things that perhaps don’t quite go as we plan (did anyone guess this year?) To sit with the mistakes, failures, and losses we have experienced in life; before trying to fix, soothe, or explain them away. To sit with the decay and grief of winter for a while before rushing on to the hope of Spring.

I am afraid that at times in the last month I have succumbed to a dark wintry despair, as I am sure many have. Wondering about the world, Covid, and the climate crisis (Brexit doesn’t even get a look in). On researching for the walk I found that Rowan Williams makes an interesting point about grief and despair.

Our woods with a bridge over the small stream.
The woods, where decay and new life sit side by side.

“Grief is different from despair. Despair says nothing will change, grief says - things have changed and things will change, if they are to change for the better rather than the worse I’ve got to understand the grief and go into it and somehow make sense of it. Looking at it with intelligence and imagination, turns us away from despair.”

To hear more of this interesting discussion on Climate Change listen to the 'Everybody Now' Nomad podcast.

Not rushing away from grief is something that both Nicola Slee and Cathryn McKinney suggest when thinking about Easter Saturday. An in-between time of confusion and grief. A time that they suggest is fundamental to the whole Easter (and thus Christian) story and worth dwelling on for a time. More from these in the walk notes. I also include some thoughtful poems from the likes of Padraig O’Tuama, Macrina Wiederkehr, Wendell Berry, and John O’Donohue.

If you would like to do this walk or send it to others, you can download the notes from our website on the Quiet Days page. I really hope it will be a blessing. And perhaps one day, you can do it here at Treargel.

Take care, and don’t forget to be kind to yourself in these difficult times.


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