St Peter's House, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9GH

Chaplaincy to The Manchester Universities. The RNCM & The University Of Law.

Un/know.

Dis/agree.

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

Bloom and Waggle-Dance: Taking Up Space

The lift of tiny hairs as unseen currents swirl the breeze over newly-emerging skin. Cloud patterns that are there and as quickly gone-again in the brisk, Spring blue. The wind, still nipping with pink-nosed reminders of cold days just passed, but the sudden emergence of a new season – laid out like the promise of a future within reach. Technicolour bulbs resplendent amongst the lush green palette that bubbles, erupts and… it’s here! The painter’s canvas transformed from the greys-browns of hidden treasure to a multi-layered, glowing explosion of colour and exuberant potential. Fertile and fecund, buzzing with life as the pollinators wake from their sleepy months and begin their dances of delight that warmth has returned to the Earth. 

An ode to Spring, perhaps… a love-song of dawning optimism at the transition from the dark of Winter into the light and hope of a bright, new Spring – but I’m ready for a bit of Hope! Beltane – the ancient Celtic festival that marks the start of summer with fire and celebrations of fertility, creativity and new life – is near, and the warmth and wisdom of the Earth points us towards brighter days ahead. Throughout the hardships of lockdown and the long months of isolation and separation from friends and family, I’ve walked with our prayer and mantra here at St Peter’s House, that ‘All Will Be Well’. This has been more than just words for us – we’ve acted on our hopeful words too, establishing The Well and seeking to be part of an ongoing sense of ‘all being well’ in the present, even whilst everything around us has seemed counter to this. Personally, my own practices bring this home for me – I know I couldn’t have made it through the past year without my rhythms of meditation, mindful movement and walking the green spaces near my house. All of these help me to connect in some way with the world, myself, and therefore with the deeper source of Love who sustains it all – some people call this source ‘God’, but I don’t think the name matters too much. 

However, I’ve found that even these disciplines become tiring to sustain in isolation. Whilst it’s possible, and indeed often life-giving to incorporate such daily practices I am – of course! –  far from immune to being tired-out, overwhelmed and a bit stir-crazy! In fact, all these good and healthy practices didn’t ever promise to claim to stop these life-realities – simply to help us accept that all of our experiences are part of life’s tapestry, to notice what’s going on, and widen our awareness into the bigger picture. 

So I’ve been yoga-ing and meditating, tired-out and fed-up, but still hoping and believing deeply that All Will Be Well…. and waiting, waiting….

Well, we’re not there yet, and of course, none of us knows what ‘there’ will look like. However, as the Earth begins to turn her face towards the warmth of the sun again and Spring smiles her colours, lighting up from the soil and down from the clearest of endless, fresh blue days – I can’t help but feel that something is shifting. And as we all begin to emerge, restrictions loosened, and beautiful selfie after radiant pub selfie proclaiming “Here we are! Back together!”, we bloom as bright as the bulbs in the pub garden pots.  As families reunite, youngest and eldest for the first time with no screen to separate, rooms heavy with love and a thousand words to find to capture all the moments lost… As Spring begins to spring, so too – it feels – are we. Little by little, step-by-step, but shifting from the space within our own heads and our own four walls, and beginning to take up space in the world. 

Two of the loveliest teachers in joyfully claiming our own space are children and animals. Even a short time with a child or animal who is absorbed in play can serve as a deep reminder to our bodies to shake off our ‘adult’ and remember who we were – before the world told us who we have to be. The arm-swinging, floor-diving, tumbling and swirling fun of child play may be a step (or two) too far for us reserved adults, but the contrast makes me think…. Maybe it’s time for the tiny, solo life of lockdown to begin to bloom like the many, bright bulbs of Spring, and maybe – like the bees, waking from their Winter hibernation – it’s time for us to begin our waggle dances of joy, moving through the world with purpose, rediscovering the unexpected, and taking up space as begin to spread our wings. 

Hannah Skinner  

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