I journeyed from darkness to light, driving through the dawn as the blackness greyed. The silhouettes of trees slowly detached themselves from the night as the sun attempted to pierce a pall of cloud that flushed to palest rose before refusing its touch. Beneath the iron sky, there was little sign of warmth and joy. I wondered how many people would see the same sun gilding the tops of the clouds as they looked out from planes soaring high above the gloom.
The layer of cloud separated two worlds… two realities. Mine was uniformly grey, above, it would be blue and gold, and both were real, both valid… both true. A simple shift in perspective, a few thousand feet, and the appearance of the world and the morning would be completely different.
You could, I mused, say the same of the weekend. A few days, a few hundred miles and a slight shift in perspective have made all the difference.
When we headed north, we had what we thought was going to be the itinerary for the December workshop. By the time we came back, it had morphed and evolved into something rather different from what we had initially planned. The land itself had showed us a different perspective, laughing at our preconceptions, yet, instead of our carefully-laid plans being upset, they had fallen into place in a way that made much more sense.
This is one of the reasons why our research trips are so important. It is not just a case of gathering practical information, like opening times, parking charges and refreshment breaks, it is about walking the planned weekend, making sure it works and leaving space for the landscape to make suggestions of its own.
This time, one of the sites around which we had planned part of the weekend turned out to be a non-starter… but as three other sites decided they wanted to be included instead… two of them jaw-droppingly good and one of them holding a perfect bit of symbolism… we simply adjusted our perspective and changed our plans. In essence, they remain the same, though the details have substantially changed from our original design. When the land makes itself heard, it would be rude not to listen.
We were exceptionally lucky with the weather, catching a perfect dawn and a perfect sunset over the ancient and sacred landscape where we will be working. We can only hope the weather will be as good for the workshop weekend, knowing that whatever the weather, it will be a perfect day above the clouds. Perhaps we can bring that knowledge down into the day somehow. So now, with three weeks to go, we have more research to do…