Pause/Move on.

Breathe in.

Breathe Out.

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”

Richard Rohr

A Million Tiny Wings

“It all begins with knowing

nothing lasts for ever,

so you might as well start packing now.

In the meantime,

practice being alive.”

Pádraig Ó Tauma’s poem ‘How to Belong Be Alone’ begins with these words, which have held resonance for our depleting team as St Peter’s House’s closure has continued over this past week. I thought, this week, I’d share a little of this, we continue our commitment to sharing all of life together in community.

The business of ‘being alive’, when practiced with intent and attention to detail, can be a beautiful and dreadful thing. What do I mean by that? Well, we’ve said a lot of goodbyes these past days. Colleagues and friends have departed after long roads walked together, whilst our volunteers left in a swirl of ‘sad-face’ selfies. Our inboxes filled with people’s questions and confusion, and we became hugely aware of the sudden quiet that fell across our office.

Meanwhile, a new awareness bloomed. The kindness of strangers and a new appreciation of each other. A tuning into what each other might need at any given point. A little box of chocolates left on a desk. A restructured team dynamic that is self-aware, inclusive and reflective. The chance to do things differently – to practice being alive to what is.

We’ve started to look at what we have. This has taken many forms. Anyone passing by may have noticed the somewhat jarring sight of Milk & Honey being ‘non-Milk & Honey-ed’. The signs coming down, the chairs and tables stacked and counted, the bits and bobs stripped back and suddenly  – its just a room! I’ve been so aware that its not the stuff that made it beautiful, it was the people. We talk about the café’s ‘assets’ – they are living on as we practice being alive.

Meanwhile, another buzz has also left the building. Many of you contacted us in the days after our closure announcment, concerned for the bees on our roof. Sadly, whilst we have handled with care our community of people – the bees had been left with no onward plan and we had to find a new home for them quickly. What has evolved, and what gives me hope in the resilience of people and the wider charity sector, is a brilliant outcome for the bees, us and the wider community. Our bee hives, plus all their flying residents, have now moved to Volition, a charity that provides volunteering opportunities to support people into employment.

Our bees have been an important symbol for us here at St Peter’s House over the past years, and many volunteers have joined us to care for and learn about them. It was with mixed feelings we watched them leave – relieved we had found them a safe home, but aware of the symbolism as their busy industry headed elsewhere. You may already know that bees survive the colder months by ‘huddling’ together and vibrating their flight muscles to generate warmth. Throughout these past weeks I’ve watched our community, more widely and within the team here, do just this – responding to uncertainty and loss through coming together and finding we sustain and resource each other.

“You belong


O’ Tauma concludes with these words, and we carry them forward this week. Amidst the departures and the dismantlings, the rescued bees and a wall of gifts and cards, we belong here. Practicing being alive and sharing the truth of our very human experience in the midst of the unknown. Letting the moment-by-moment of what we’re learning in these in-between times rise and take flight on a million tiny wings.

Images by James Glossop, with credit to The Times & Sunday Times

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