Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Kenyan daze

I am off to Kenya next Tuesday and in that last minute daze of practical things like currency, sun cream, anti malaria tablets, clothes and the more work related stuff of finalising a programme and figuring out what materials to take etc etc. According to the DNA researchers all of our ancestors originally came from Africa and most then followed a variety of routes to bring us where we are now. The earliest human type skeletons were found in the Rift valley in Kenya. So when people say 'Africa has got under my skin' maybe they are experiencing a resonance with their African ancestors! It will be good to get out of England and see my life here from a distance. I don't relish the long flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi and back but it passes. I don't relish the Nairobi traffic either but it is a sign of modern times. I do look forward to meeting my Kenyan students again, well on in their studies and eating lunch out in the warm sunshine and being dazzled by the bright colours and meeting new people.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Living mystically

I had a whiff recently of what my recent working life had been about. This is difficult for me as I was brought up not to be full of myself. To have pride was seen as a sin and to be dangerous – ‘too big for your own boots’, ‘don’t get above yourself’. I am after all a grammar school small town kid made good whose parents decided I needed elocution lessons before going to Uni. That was so shameful and embarrassing. But, I need to understand as clearly as possible what I am doing and what affect I have on people for their own sake as well as mine. I recently saw the proofs of Brian Thorne’s new book and he unasked said some lovely things about me. Since I respect him and his opinion I have to listen to these words of his: “Among those present at the 2004 conference was Dr William West from the University of Manchester and it is appropriate at this point to pay tribute to Dr West for his part in the struggle to endow the spiritual dimension in therapy with the importance that it merits. Dr West is currently Reader in Counselling Studies at Manchester and for nearly 20 years he has researched, practised and written extensively on spirituality and therapy. At the same time, he has been a source of inspiration for numerous doctoral students who have been pioneers in this fascinating and often demanding terrain. A humanistic practitioner himself who has been much influenced by the person-centred approach, Dr West has ploughed an often lonely furrow but his books Psychotherapy and Spirituality and Spiritual Issues in Therapy (West, 2000, 2000) have done much to bring about the situation today where what was until recently regarded as an esoteric and eccentric area for scholarly enquiry is now seen as at the cutting edge for therapists and spiritual explorers alike. His most recent edited book Exploring Therapy, Spirituality and Healing (West, 2011), which contains many papers contributed by former or current research students, provides ample and persuasive evidence of the major influence Dr West has exercised and the single-minded determination with which he has committed himself to a field of endeavour which was assuredly not guaranteed to enhance his professional advancement. (184-185) From Thorne, B., (2012, at press) Counselling and Spiritual Accompaniment. Wiley-Blackwell. So what comes to me now is that I have made a difference and it has come out of my living as a spiritual being and finding ways of loving the people I work with and encouraging them to follow their truth. This has been very strange within a university setting! On the other hand this following of inner truth is what universities can be about. I think I have stretched the patience of some of my colleagues no end and I sometimes lack a sense of proportion. But my heart is usually in the right place. Part of this whiff is that my work is not over. Some of the future is becoming clearer (watch this space!) some is not. The not is that I feel there is work for me spiritually beyond academia and I don’t understand this yet. I was given this morning the phrase Living Mystically. Am not sure if it is a book, a course or a way of being!

Monday, 11 June 2012


Journeying When you are in it you can’t see it Looking back you sometimes seem To catch a pattern. When I die You’ll tell stories about me For a while Probably not my story But who cares or controls? I can’t But I feel At times The arc of my days Death is coming towards me Not moving fast But steadily and purposefully. I used to fear death Wanted to bargain with God I now know I have no power No control Only a life to lead A life that matters More precious than ever.