The spirit of the margins is an experiential and participative session led by myself and Mike Mullins in which we look at margins in nature, margins in the lives of well known (and not so well known) people and margins in our own lives. It involves individual reflection, collective discussion, prose and poetry. Depending on the length of time available and the particular audience, the sessions can:
- Explore is meant by the centre and the margins, looking at both the external world and our own internal experiences, and definitions of centre and margins in relation to factors such as power and relationships.
- Consider the relationship between the centre and the margins.
- Review what we may need to do to survive, grow and even flourish on the margins
- Examine the fruits or gifts of the margins.
The Spirit of the Margins can be run with both spiritual and secular groups.
Feedback from the Spirit of the Margins
Meditatio, London (November 2016)
‘Nourishing…inspiring…tremendous sense of unity…like an Act of Worship…a revelation…paradoxical..warm and welcoming…insightful.’
House of Prayer, Surrey (November 2016)
‘I went away ” bothered and blessed” – aware of my capacity for avoidance and gratitude for my blessings and aware I had been in a sacred space too…’
‘Brought to mind lots of marginal times and questioned my sense of centre, which I thankfully have, in order to keep moving in my work.’
‘Thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted from the day and the way it was led.’
Social Sculpture Festival, Oxford (September 2015)
‘It helped me to see the margins in a positive light.’
‘I found it interesting to reflect on my journey between the centre and the margins.’
‘It made me appreciate how interesting and intellectually challenging the margins are.’
‘Raised interesting questions about margins.’
‘A lot of what I give myself for self-development is goal-orientated, but this workshop was non-pressured and ‘held’ in a secure way.’
‘The discussion moved from the personal, to the political, to the spiritual…there was a good cross-fertilisation of ideas for me through the jumble!’
‘I really valued having the time and space for exploring this subject. It gave me an opportunity to notice some of the issues which came up for me, and also to hear what was evoked for others. At times there was a wonderful timeless quality to my experiences.’
‘Looking at different models of interaction between the centre and the margins (dynamics between margins and the centre) was interesting.’
Runcton Manor, West Sussex (June 2015)
‘…a chance to reflect widely on issues of the soul, and to listen. A lot of self-development is goal-orientated, but this workshop was non-pressured and ‘held’ in a secure way by the group leaders.’
‘It was really good to meet a group of people who are obviously careful explorers of what it means to be spiritual in a Christian context, and I experienced a sense of relief that my personal struggles with faith can also find a home in a long tradition.’
‘an opportunity to notice some of the issues which came up for me, and also to hear what was evoked for others. At times there was a wonderful timeless quality to my experiences.’
‘I valued the possibility to reflect on experiences when I felt on the margins, read about well-known people who influenced and brought change for others as a result of being on the margins or choosing to embrace the cause of those being on the margins.’
As a supplement to the Spirit of the Margins walks I also offer marginal walks. I am particularly interested in leading marginal walks in organisations and communities as a way of exploring their margins in a creative, safe and positive way.
I have undertaken marginal walks with over 30 people over the last year or so. Some were well known, including Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche and 2015 Templeton Prize winner. Others have included students, artists, a person with mental health problems, carers, philosophers and others going about their ordinary lives.
Most walks start with a discussion about what we mean by margins; we then explore margins in the world around us – nature or the built environment – and seek to explore how they speak to us, our communities or organisations, and our society. There is no need to prepare anything beforehand and no set agenda – each walk takes a different route with different points for discussion, depending on the walker. Afterwards, we jointly decide how best to present what has emerged.