The Importance of Gathering
I recently came across the concept of ‘homing’*. A deep-seated need to go home. I think we all have that craving for a sense of belonging in varying degrees. Its especially true for those of us introverts, creatives and imaginative ones who never quite fit in with the conventional crowd, who have had to adapt away from their truest skins in order to fit in. And once in a while we all need to return to that place within us which feels like home. It can be done in solitude, yes. Or it can be found in a quiet celebration when we gather with others of our kind and nourish our soul-skins. This is what it felt like at the Creative Countryside Autumn Gathering.
We got together on Friday evening and after a long drive up from London I could feel a sense of leaving the stress behind as soon as put my bag down. We settled in with conversations, a beautiful dinner by Eleanor and Jess (from @houseofflint), then ended the evening with a tea ritual and some seasonal reflections. The next day started with a beautiful meditation by Elizabeth Cairns. Something about it hit home and set us up with calmness for the day. Then Bex from @botanical_tales guided us in making a version of the advent calendar but instead of adding material things we wrote down prompts on beautiful handmade paper rolled them into tiny scrolls. Then hung them on to leafy branches with dried flowers, a meditative practice in itself. In the afternoon, Hannah form @ashleaf showed us the art of bronze casting leaves with was fascinating. We each collected and waxed a leaf, which is the first stage of the process. On Sunday, Chelsea from @lovinglifeinwellies took us on a mindful walk, which refreshed the senses and placed us firmly in the present moment. And interlaced among the activities were wholesome vegetarian/vegan meals, tea, inspiring conversations, sharing of ideas, laughter and rest. Before the feast on Saturday night Jess spontaneously started hanging extra leaves from our walk on to the ceiling. I joined in. The candlelight later made the shadows of the leaves dance on the ceiling. I sat there mesmerised. At the end of the meal we spend a few moments in reflection of the coming darker months led by Eleanor as we slowly blew the candles and sat in darkness for a while. Then she lit the candle again as a symbolic reminder that the light always returns.
Some were familiar faces; some weren’t, but meeting these people, gathering around the fire with them, sharing stories, preforming even the simple rituals around tea and candlelight brought a sense of togetherness and comfort. These were my people and I felt connected to them. A few days of gentle activities spent in connection with nature and the company of kindred spirits was like going home and returning nourished and inspired. Like applying a soothing balm to parched skin.
*Homing (biology): the inherent ability of an animal to navigate towards the original location through unfamiliar areas.
All Images by Annie Spratt