Scargill – A Spacious Place

At the recent Scargill Movement weekend where Phil Stone was addressing the trustees and other friends of Scargill he spoke about the importance of continuity and change at a time of transition and exciting advance.

That working out of continuity and change happens within a unique space here at Scargill. Psalm 18:19 says ‘He brought me out into a spacious place.’ And psalm 31:8 ‘You have not handed me over to my enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.’ That is also the testimony of many of our guests that when they come to Scargill, it is like being placed in a spacious place by God, a space full of generous hospitality.

But in that spacious place here at Scargill people are enabled to find the spacious place within their own head, a cathedral of spaciousness if you like. They are also helped to move from the small fear screen in their heads where our culture often bounces us. Scott Symington who is a Christian clinical psychologist calls this his ‘Two Screen Model.’ He says ‘imagine your internal world as a media room with two screens. On the wall you see facing forward is the front screen, which represents the present moment and life-giving internal activity…Off to the right, still inside your mind, is a side screen – the place where the fears, worries, unhealthy urges, and destructive moods show up.’[1] It is helpful to know that we can move from our small fear-based screen to our more spacious awareness within.

[1] Scott Symington, Freedom from Anxious Thoughts & Feelings: A Two-Step Mindfulness Approach for moving Beyond Fear and Worry (New Harbinger Publications Inc, 2019, Kindle location 116.

View from Stone’s rest on Scargill estate

One of the tasks of community, working friends and trustees of Scargill, according to Jo, who helps articulate the wisdom of community, is to hold this space for our guest and friends. It’s not all on the community to make things happen, a lot of it is ensuring the space is held for others. It is a bit like being a musician or singer where you extend your own personal space through singing and invite others in. One singer puts it like this:

Something happens and that is I feel the attention comes to me and step into it. I step into a sort of position or place where I feel now my personal space opens up to invite everyone. It’s like you’re welcome to come into my house.[2]

In that sense, part of being on community is to learn to extend our own personal space to hospitably and generously to include others. This is very counter-cultural and takes a while to learn. It is not just that community holds the space of Scargill for others, Scargill itself is what psychologist Donald Winnicott called a holding space or holding environment. He argued that mothers create a holding environment/space for children, but also that therapists can do that, and of course the idea can be extended to the environment of Scargill. Friends and guests come to Scargill feeling fragile, and perhaps about to fall apart but feel held in the space of the house, grounds and the communitas of Scargill. Communitas or the spirit of community is something many people sense here and feel is lacking in their own environment.

Another way Scargill is counter cultural is something Rebecca Solnit reflects on in an article in the London Review of Books. In the article she laments the losses and drastic changes to our lives that the communication and media technologies have wrought since their rise to dominate every waking moment. In particular she laments the loss of open spaces:

The fine art of doing nothing in particular, also known as thinking, or musing, or introspection, or simply moments of being, was part of what happened when you walked from here to there alone, or stared out of the train window, or contemplated the road, but the new technologies have flooded these open spaces. Space for thought is routinely regarded as a void, and filled up with sounds and distractions.[3]

One of the rhythms of Scargill is to allow open spaces during the day and to not try and fill every moment of the day with activity for our guests. This is an important act of cultural resistance. In our own lives it is essential to notice whether we fill every moment and struggle with the open space of free time and nothing to do.

So today may you find the cathedral within, and move out of the small fear-based screen in your mind. In your everyday may you be placed in a spacious place by God. When you come to Scargill may it be a holding space, and may you in turn be a spacious hospital space for others.

[3] Rebecca Solnit, “Diary,” London Review of Books 2013, (my italics) quoted in Andrew Epstein’s Attention Equals Life: The Pursuit of the Everyday in Contemporary Poetry and Culture (Oxford University Press, 2016) Kindle, location 1014-1015.

[2] Freinkel, P. D. (2015). Freinkel, P. D. (2015). Singing and participatory spirituality. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 34(1-2), 160, International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 34 (1).

This was posted on 24 March 2023. Tagged: , , , , , ,

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