We learn, grow and become compassionate and generous as much through exile as homecoming, as much through loss as gain, as much through giving things away as in receiving what we believe to be our due. – David Whyte
Like oil lamps, we put them out the back,
of our houses, of our minds. We had lights
better than, newer than and then
a time came, this time and now
we need them. – from The Emigrant Irish – Eavan Boland
A 5 day retreat with Fi Gilmour and Robbie Breadon.
This retreat is specifically for people who experience themselves as alienated, in exile,
disconnected or uncomfortable with returning to Northern Ireland and/or Southern Ireland.
Over the decades and centuries there have been many exoduses and migrations from these
islands – people have migrated for work or economic reasons, because of the Troubles and probably always for the promise of a better life elsewhere. In the last couple of decades there has been a movement of return – partly due to the peace process and partly due to changed economic circumstances. The economic boom known as the Irish Tiger was part of this; the ease of travel plus cheap flights are other factors.
Our experience is that returning is a complex, challenging and often painful experience.
This retreat is for those who would like to return, have not yet done so and would like support with crossing the threshold. It is also for those who come and go yet find the experience difficult – there may be feelings of grief, fear and regret. For some it is hard to deal with the past. Often returns are packed with lots of socialising, travelling about, and the consumption of alcohol. All of this is great, yet some people are left with unmet needs and ongoing conflicts.
Common Ground holds that these states of disconnection and exile are not just from families and communities: they are from the fabric of the land itself. The exile mourns the loss of place. This is expressed culturally in song and poetry. Returning to place is a process that involves being received by the fields, the rivers and the hills. To find one’s place anew in the outer landscape is to come home to self in the inner landscape.
The retreat is an opportunity consciously to return to the land with psychological support and, very practically, by spending time in nature and within the landscape. The retreat will include:
- sharing stories of exile and return with others
- acknowledgement of family histories and ancestors
- support with the challenges of transition
- time in nature and in touch with the land itself
- a process of conscious and embodied return during the retreat
- time for song, poetry and dance
- preparation to go forward from the Common Ground experience
Dates will be published later.
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