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  • Writer's pictureBield at Blackruthven


Without the devotion and dedication of our multi-disciplinary staff and volunteer team, there would be no “Bield”.

This Retreat and Conference Centre is a welcoming place for each visitor and guest, because of each individual who works here. For the whole month of June, my welcome as chaplain will involve meeting the Bield team daily. They will enable me to see the ministry of the Bield through their eyes. I will be outdoors in my wellies, getting earth under my nails, shadowing the gardeners, grounds staff, listening hard and having a brew with them in The Piece Hut. Over at the Smallholding, I know I will enjoy hours spent with the horticulturalists and their workers, picking up new skills and many a story as they therapeutically tend the animals and grow produce for the weekly veg boxes. Pulling up a chair beside the Receptionist, I will learn all about the detailed front of house work and what’s ahead for each day, week and month in the 2022 programme. In the Steading areas and especially in the kitchen, apron on, our staff will show me everything that is involved in the hospitality that we offer to our guests. Making beds, preparing food, cleaning and health and safety. Pastoral Team members will show me the quiet spaces where listening and spiritual direction can happen; indoors and out. Maybe for an hour or so, I will draw, doodle, paint in the Art room or visualise all the ways the Barn Exhibition Space has or could been used. I will follow my colleagues around the wheelchair labyrinth, the grass cut labyrinth, sit with them at the cross and write a prayer on the slates. They will help me to appreciate what it’s like to be on retreat at the Bield. I will put on a “silence” badge and eat my lunch and sit awhile without interruption: just as some retreat guests choose to do. No matter how many retreat and conference centres I have been to in the past – the Bield is unique. May I take in the big picture of what makes this place so transforming and healing. Then it’s over to the office spaces, small meeting room and conference room to fully comprehend ‘running’ the Bield from a leadership perspective. The Executive Director, the Founders and Directors of The Board, will generously make time for me to sit with them, walk with them, eat with them; as I pay full attention to every word, memory and wise insight which only they can pass on. The silent colleagues in the team will also have my attention. They are the hens, the geese, the pigs, horse, sheep, goats, dogs, alpacas, bees, the trees, plants, outdoor spaces – for they are all a special part of what makes the Bield. Last but not least, I will spend 3 slots in my day in the chapel services and extra times in there alone. She is a valued colleague. I will sit in her walls and soak up all that she offers staff, volunteers and guests in this community.

It is said that you cannot pour from an empty cup. June is going to be very full outpouring indeed. The planned and the unplanned is before me. So I will set up good self care; making sure my daily devotions are kept as I roll out my Yoga mat morning or night to stretch, unwind, read the Bible and pray. Meeting online with my own Spiritual Director at St Bueno’s is as vital as making sure that my next Clinical Supervision session is in the diary. Days off will be treasured to simply rest or explore Perth city and local areas. My husband and I will be itching to discover new walking, running, cycling routes and see family and friends too. I am truly thankful for these early days of adjustment as Steve and I acclimatise to our new home here and the Bield environment in this part of the world. “For a Leader” by John O’Donohue is my spiritual map for June.

“May you know the wisdom of deep listening,

The healing of wholesome words,

The encouragement of the appreciative gaze,

The decorum of held dignity,

The springtime edge of the bleak question.

May you have a mind that loves frontiers

So that you can evoke the bright fields

That lie beyond the view of the regular eye.

May you have good friends

To mirror your blind spots.

May leadership be for you

A true adventure of growth.”


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