A review of the Ancient Paths learning community by one of the participants of the 2021/2022 cohort. To find out more see Exploring Ancient Paths.
I signed up for the Ancient Paths course because I had been reflecting on a desire to establish a rule of life but couldn’t see how to make it work this side of retirement! This course seemed to be a God-given opportunity to explore the possibility of establishing a rule of life now.
My hoped for outcome has been reached in as much as I have written a rule of life which includes things I have introduced during the course and other patterns which I know will be a stretch but attainable if I pursue them.
I liked the structure of a practitioner talk, books to read, a shared meal and practical exercises.
One of the practical exercises I really struggled with prior to doing it [having a meal with a homeless person] and couldn’t imagine how it was going to happen. I was terrified! My group were both encouraging and also made it sound like the most natural thing in the world to do. I did it, alone, even though they offered to come with me. Having done it, I have to say, it was one of the highlights of the course. It was personally insightful and a very precious experience.
The shared meals were fun, chaotic at times, and challenged me deeply because of those I was sitting at table with. Everyone knew each other and most had a deep and long term history together. But I was made to feel hugely welcome. I am also a minister of a church and over mealtimes heard how church had not always been kind and loving to everyone in the room and this was humbling. I still have much to reflect on in terms of what it means to be a fully inclusive community.
I found the amount of reading quite difficult at times. Some of the books were more helpful than others because as a busy minister, and one who needs space and privacy to meet the needs of my family, some of the reading around doing life in community didn’t feel practical or possible. However, the two stand-out books for me were the one on hospitality and the one on addictions. I don’t think I would have read either had I not been on the course and expect I will revisit them when time allows.
I am really pleased I did the course and am looking forward to the retreat day in July.