What do you most deeply and profoundly love?
What are your deepest and most profound gifts?
What are your most profound responsibilities?
On Friday, sixty of us, mostly coaches, spent the day at Embercombe reflecting on these questions.
Embercombe is a delight, ‘a garden that grows people’ a place dedicated to touching hearts, stimulating minds and inspiring committed action for a sustainable world. Fifty acres with views towards Dartmoor, it includes two yurt villages, mature broadleaf woodland, a wildlife lake, forest garden and apple orchard, cob pizza ovens, circular organic market garden (that supplied fresh food for our lunch) and a peaceful ‘medicine garden’.
After an introduction and talk from Mac, Embercombe’s founder, we sat in pairs sharing our ‘loves’ in turn, here’s a few of mine: clear skies and warm sunshine on my face, lying on my back watching stars, salmon leaping after October rain, midsummer sunrise over Kes Tor, my son calling ‘Hello’ when he comes home, Atlantic breakers crashing into the shore at Northcott Mouth, Ponte Vecchio in Florence, cappuccino with a friend, the smooth humped rock in Stockholm’s archipelago, good work, just being. Once I started they seemed to want to keep rippling out in widening circles…
What I noticed was that when these loves were more grand or abstract, for example ‘friendship’ or ‘nature’ or ‘life’ I felt less connected, but when I let go of having to be “deep and profound” and allowed my deepest and profoundest loves to be small, simple, specific, everyday loves a subtle but powerful opening of my heart took place.
Afterwards we were invited to explore the land alone. Walking slowly down the hill into the valley, I let the remaining questions ‘settle’ following the instruction to let the land speak to us: What are my deepest and most profound gifts? My most profound responsibilities?
Given a question it’s really tempting to go ‘questing’ for insights and hunting for answers. But this didn’t feel ‘right’ – this kind of process isn’t about results but the value of the ‘work’ itself. I decided to simply be present to the morning: the slip, slide and suck of my green wellies in the mud; standing very still listening to the switt- tswitt-witt-witt of a flock of red faced goldfinches, shy and hard to spot in the field of sunflowers left to seed; the purring of chickens gathering in the hope of scraps; deep red haws among twisted thorns against the blue, blue sky; deeply churned mud; Caroline’s face, golden, tilted towards the sun, high wire fences surrounding a building site; a serviceable but ancient horse cart with peeling green paint and rotting sills, a curl of blue smoke from the fire where we were to gather later.
Though not seeking an answer one found me anyway – could it be that one of my most profound responsibilities is to be present and alive to the world and to let this connection give birth to action?
I hope you enjoy this video taken of the day: