I used to do a lot of embroidery. No matter how neatly you try and work, or how carefully you preserve the integrity of each individual skein and hue, winding them carefully around cards to keep them separate and useful, you always end up with a tangle of mismatched threads; the tail ends of shades, the offcuts and strays…a rainbow heap of intertwined colour where finding an end seems nigh on impossible… even though you know that each thread has to have two to choose from! Through the tangle the occasional thread of fragile gold gleams and catches the light.
Sometimes the threads become knotted, caught up in themselves and the long, laborious process of untangling them begins… or else you take the knife and cut the knot, knowing that the fragments of thread that remain will be of little use for anything else. Yet, the work that is produced, the jewel coloured flowers, pictures and symbols, wrought in glowing silks against the pristine white of linen or the sumptuous satins… is simply beautiful. A work of art and craft; sealed, almost always, with the inadvertent and invisible sacrifice of blood drawn by the needle’s point.
Those who have wielded the needle know the long hours involved in the creation of such beauty… eyes strained, fingers pricked, neck and back bent over the work… know what is hidden beneath the stitches to give the picture depth and substance… layers of thread laboriously stitched or wadding, scraps of silk and fabric from other sources… It demands utter concentration, you cannot watch TV as you sew, you cannot do anything else with your hands, you have to give the work your full attention… in a room full of people you can listen and contribute to a conversation, but you are not able to meet eyes and be fully there. Yet what is produced at the end is as whole and beautiful in its own right as the skill of the one who plies the needle can make it.
I am reminded of that process.
There is, it seems, a special Providence that looks after those who step off a metaphorical cliff into thin air. Yes, I was simply going to write lunatics, but to be fair that isn’t the best recommendation really. It may be true though. It certainly feels like it sometimes when we catch our breath and take time to glance back to whence we have come.
The past year and a half have been hectic…once the decision had been made to see if we had wings, everything began to move very fast. Yet it is a journey that has taken forever. It is impossible to say where a single thread that runs through the tapestry of any life begins and who can know at what point the Silent Eye became a twinkle in the cosmic Eye…though we may know when it was first conceived, when labour began and when it was born into the world.
The original vision, of course, was Steve’s… and as is the way with these things, though he was looking at a point some time in the future, there is no stopping the imminence of a birth when the time is right. Just like the birth of any baby, you, as parents, dream and weave your plans, picturing a future you will aim for… only to find the baby has its own life and character, its own vitality, gifts and ideas… and your job is not to dream for the child, but to enable it to find its own vision and equip it so that the dreams can become reality. As every parent knows… that is a joy that takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
The original vision was sharp and clear-cut. The forces at work behind the School evolved and grew, subtly shifting and bringing their own life to what we were building, making it richer and deeper than the focussed vision we had at its inception. We, the first students of the School, have the opportunity to learn so much as we write and teach. The tangled skeins of our own egos the first to be unravelled and cut in order to serve. Which is how it must be.
Beneath the surface we present to the world our work is continuous. A three year course takes a lot of writing… a weekend workshop takes three solid months of work at least… a two hour evening can take a month to prepare… And then there the students, our Companions, whose weekly journals are answered individually. Books to write, and the dreaded editing… and like the embroidery, or an iceberg… what is seen above the surface hides much that will not be seen.
With the Glastonbury talks starting in just three weeks and the April Workshop in Derbyshire just twelve weeks away, you would think we would have enough on our plate, yes? Indeed. So we decided to start updating the website too, getting it to reflect a little better the vibrancy and energy of the School as we approach the end of the first year since the official launch.
Why do we do it? Because we must, driven by a passion for what we do and the joy of sharing it. There are few things brighter than to share joy and laughter with a room full of eyes and minds.. and we do. The spiritual quest should not be dry or boring! But one thing is brighter… the privilege of seeing mind and heart, like a flower unfold and turn its face to the Light.