Holding a safe space
Holding a space, in which to breathe deeply
Our dream for Treargel has always been to hold a space, where everyone can come and enjoy peace and beauty in a safe place. In 2023 we did this in a variety of ways.
We’ve had 126 batches of guests from all around the world, 0 to 94, with various reasons for retreating. An Australian couple who run a church network came to hide away, a pastor from Canada on her way around the Cornish Celtic Way, and an American researching pilgrimage in Britain while staying in the Shepherd’s Hut. In chatting with the latter we noted that many people now seem to be exploring the meaning of life through walking challenges and pilgrimages; and the opening up of community spaces, churches, etc to facilitate this. Read about his book and experiences here.
In holding an inclusive space for everyone this year we’ve had guests who are Christians, Buddhists, and ‘nones’ (and nuns;). Those considering going into ministry, recovering from difficult church experiences, or contemplating for the first time, the spiritual side of life. Others just want a break in beautiful, historic Cornwall. An annual guest runs as many local half-marathons and cycle tournaments as he can in 10 days. Another method of contemplation! As I write we have our Looe youth holiday club, making dens in our wood. It’s so great to be able to welcome such diverse groups of people here.
One of the main aspects guests notice here at Treargel is the quiet. We are lucky to live in a place that has a lack of sirens, traffic, or noisy neighbours.
A Piggery guest wrote;
“I arrived wired and tired, leaving feeling refreshed and at peace”.
A Byre guest said;
“A stunningly beautiful, peaceful haven. wish we could stay longer”.
And a Hermitage guest left us this message.
‘“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy” Abraham Heschel. Thank you Naomi and Family to offer and hold this peaceful place to relearn just that’.
Sometimes we get unusual requests. Like the enquiry from a lady with a brain injury, which left her sensitive to noise, motion, and complex visual stimuli; searching for a ‘super quiet place’ to rest, walk and forage. With some extra arrangements, she stayed in the Shepherd’s Hut. At the end of her 3 weeks, through tears she said,
“Thanks ever so, for everything!”.
Well, judge for yourselves.
Ensuring everyone is safe is a priority here at Treargel. So installing a new electrical board in the Piggery, cutting down dead trees in the wood, and buying a new boiler for the outdoor shower, has meant we’ve been able to keep you, our guests, physically safe.
A Hermitage guest told us;
“I have also appreciated much more light, after the hard work of the tree surgeons”.
We also hope there is a wider sense of safety in what is often described as a ‘thin place’, as people tentatively explore difficult questions, crossroads, and areas of loss in their lives. This is something I’ve had the privilege to witness as I listen to guests' stories and musings through Listening Ear sessions. I’ve been so encouraged by their bravery and the work they are willing to do; as they tease out emotions, reactions, and expectations. My hope is that Treargel is a safe place to gently go through all of these.
“Thank you so much for giving me the chance to … let my spirit unfurl”,
wrote a Piggery guest.
So, once again it has been wonderful to be able to hold a space where everyone can come and enjoy peace and beauty in a safe place.
By the way, the prize for repeat visits in one year goes to our guest from Plymouth. Who after coming for a private quiet day, came 5 more times with various members of her family. She has also booked her Church Parish day with us in January, so they will have space to plan the next year in a quiet and (hopefully) inspiring space.
Book a group day here.
Bereavement Quiet Day
My new tree surgeon friends, are amateur potters and have sadly both lost their wives to cancer.
“It was the most profoundly painful and life changing moment of my life. It was also extremely isolating.”
This difficult experience has led them to help others in similar situations, by starting Loss and Life a charity to help others navigate their way through the mire of loss. Together we have decided to use the beautiful space at Treargel to help others and give them time to think and talk through their stories. At our meeting to plan the logistics of the day, they surprised me by giving me a small ball of clay to play with. I enjoyed sitting there molding and squidging it in my hands while we chatted, feeling how malleable it was, cold and squishy.
At first, I didn't want to make anything, I just enjoyed the freedom of no expectations or plans. As we talked, I realised that I was afraid. I didn’t want to commit to a certain shape, to start something I couldn’t finish. But also afraid of what the other two would think of me. What if I made something rubbish? Would I look silly? When they gently asked, ‘How does it feel to have clay in your hands?’, I shared my fears, as I continued squishing and smoothing. We then discussed what we noticed about ourselves through the clay and how this translated to our wider lives. Am I so afraid of what others think, that sometimes this stops me from being creative?
(By the end, to my surprise, I had made a strange Alice in Wonderlandesque cube of clay).
That's a little bit of how I hope the Quiet Day is going to go. Together, we can sit and mold and think. Then talk and share, as much as we wish, about our experiences and struggles with loss. Whilst also spending time alone in the gardens and eating a delicious hot meal together. I’m hoping for it to be quite a special day. So if you know a bereaved friend for whom you think this may be helpful, please do pass on this blog.
Quiet Day, 20th April, Handling Grief Through Creativity
An opportunity to gather with others who have also lost a loved one. To share stories and find ways of coping whilst working with clay in the beautiful setting of the Treargel.
With the opportunity to stay a couple of nights.
£45 per person.
Option to apply to our Bursary for up to half the cost.
Email me to show your interest.
March 2024 dates TBA
Come and join us and help make Treargel a beautiful, peaceful, safe place to stay. Free accommodation, a barbeque, and loads of ‘craic’ (as the Irish would say).
Email me to show your interest and bag the best bed.
I would like to thank my neighbours for their help in creating such a beautiful, peaceful place here at Treargel.
And thanks for all your support this year, we wouldn’t be here without you.
Come and see us again in 2024.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
May you find new areas of light,
And enjoy snuggling in the dark.