We did it !!!
We crossed the lifeways bridge from the past, strong, sure, pre-COVID side to the future, new, fresh, post-COVID side. And what a wonderful experience that crossing was!
The pillars of the bridge were there in memory and imagination. We knew where we had come from and where we wanted to be by the end of the week. The span of the bridge, and how we would cross it was carefully prepared in the world of thought. About 180 participants were awaited, aged 10 months to many more moons than that.
Then came the physical reality.
The calendar of the soul verse for the week was there, as usual, on the table in the hall at Emerson. The ‘bounty of the Gods’ was ripening in the deep ground of our souls as we checked the weather forecast and were welcomed by the joyful Emerson staff. They reminded us of what they had been told by a young lifeways participant a couple of years previously. He told them that ‘this is a happy week’.
Registration, normally a chaotic coming together, was gentle and quiet. Some friends dared to share a hug or a high five – after a tentative assessment of how welcome touch would be. Children stayed closer to their parents, with a slight look of apprehension in their eyes. Participants brought experience of being born, or giving birth, in lockdown. Some had spent half of their young lives in lockdown. Those approaching their final years in this incarnation brought with them experience of being denied proper participation in important, unrepeatable life events.
But at last, we really were all together in the wonderful grounds of Emerson, blessed by beautiful weather, with no legal restrictions, ready to cross that bridge. Excitement built. Some would cross the bridge consciously and slowly, with carefully guided, tentative steps. Some would simply fly across with no perception of a bridge at all. Children would spend their first ever night camping and have their first ever experience of building a real fire. Adults would learn new concepts and work at new skills. Friendships would be made and renewed. Life paths would change.
We start the mornings singing together, before taking ourselves off to the chosen workshops. YES ! We had the courage to spend the mornings becoming a clown, writing a poem, making a willow basket, learning speech and eurythmy, working with the story of Parzival or building a bridge between the rhythms of the Cosmos and the rhythms in our lives. YES, we spent the afternoons together enjoying deep discussion and activities for adults and children. And on the last day, YES, we shared our experiences of our groups with each other.
The evenings were particularly special. Roger Druitt spoke about experiencing what is on the ‘other side’ of the bridge between the spiritual and the physical – between the living and the dead. Ken Gibson wove his autobiography into story and music. Andrew Wolpert invited us to explore the nature of forgiveness and develop our ability to unconditionally forgive – changing our relationships with those both sides of the threshold for now and for the after life experience. John Meeks took us out at night to lie on our backs in a field, and look up as the clouds cleared and the constellations appear one by one. Saturn and Jupiter treated us to a glimpse of themselves, just as they had done in the last lifeways. We recognised them in their new positions and saw them in relationship to new stars. Just as we recognised each other in each of our new situations in relationship to new friends.
On Thursday evening the many hidden talents of participants were revealed. Beautiful voices sang, spoke and joked. Music was played, skits and juggling were performed. Then we danced, feeling ourselves free, almost across the lifeways bridge.
The ‘harvest’ on the last day brings together all the participants in celebration of what has been experienced. The camp brought us all a song, teaching us how best to keep walking over our personal bridges together :-
‘Don’t walk infront of me, I may not follow,
Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead,
Just walk beside me and be my friend,
And together we’ll walk our path on earth’.
The final lunch on the lawn reminded us that the friends we walk through life together with are both human and spiritual, from both sides of the threshold, and are there to walk with us over all our bridges to come. And that on those bridges stands a guardian whose lifeways enable us to get to know better and better.
If you would like to start building a bridge towards next year’s lifeways the dates are 23rd – 29th July 2023.
Do come and join us. The Lifeways team: Sue Peat, Ted Prestbury, Florrie Cassels, Louis Lines, Yvette Dellsperger