Friday was a good day. We had a late and leisurely start after a fair amount of talking and a little wine… note the restrained understatement on both those counts… The car was packed and ready to go… we would not be back for some time… but first there was School business to attend to; the directors of the Silent Eye converged on the little village of Great Hucklow and the Queen Anne for a meeting. The seventeenth century pub is a place we know well, as it is here we often meet and here many spend convivial evenings during our residential workshops.
While plans for the workshop were undoubtedly the first priority, two of our number had a belated Christmas gift to offer to the third. Do not think for a minute that those who work within a spiritual school are dry in any sense… certainly not… Four bottles of well-labelled ale spelled out a well-crafted message to their recipient…and thus the meeting began with laughter.
It also began to snow. Quite heavily.
Over lunch we discussed the unfolding story of the workshop … set in the Temple of Isis in ancient Egypt the tale that will unfold is both exciting and deeply symbolic of the journey of the human soul. We talked and listened, laying plans. These months in the run-up to the workshop are intense. Everything has to be written from scratch, thought of, planned and made so that the experience runs seamlessly and effortlessly for all those who attend, leaving plenty of time for relaxing, friendship and laughter. And the odd pint of Stowford’s at the Queen Anne.
Five ritual dramas tell the story, a handful of knowledge sessions that are both informative and fun explain the spiritual principles behind them, two further rituals add a unique touch to the weekend… and no matter how much work we put into it, the weekend only works because of the people who attend. Once again we have companions flying in from the States and from Europe to join us, as well as from across the UK… old friends and new faces… it is going to be fun.
Deciding discretion was the better part of valour we departed sooner than we would have liked. Great Hucklow nestles high in the Derbyshire hills. The landscape is beautiful, but when the snow falls, it can fall thick and fast. The evening would need to see us all in Stockport for the monthly gathering. We descended upon the Ram’s Head in Disley for tea, another seventeenth century inn, but rather grander than the homely warmth of the Queen Anne … Disley being rather closer to our destination and with a better chance of clear roads.
The gathering was as warm and full of friendship as always and the evening went well, though ended in good time as Steve had the long drive back to Cumbria ahead, whilst Stuart and I needed to find a hotel for the night. Between the uncertain health of the car and the even more uncertain weather, we had not booked in advance, so we set off in the general direction of Chester in the snow, with temperatures plummeting. We felt Chester, at least, was attainable, even if Scotland became an impossibility. Steve’s report of the northern roads was not good. It didn’t look promising and we were half expecting to have to return to Sheffield and abandon the trip. If, that is, we could get back across the hills.
The roads were getting dodgy so we checked into the first place we found… right under the landing path for Manchester airport. What little snow had fallen there had frozen and the paths were treacherous… all we could do was wait and see what the morning would bring…