CEL Conference March 2012, Feedback from Two Workshops

A feedback letter from Sandra Dutson after the CEL Conference at Bristol 10 March 2010 Treasure in the Field – Spiritual Capital and Sustainable Living.
The conference was well planned with a variety of contributions. There was at times a heaviness about it. Initially I found some aspects of the day just a bit ‘too heavy’. Perhaps it was in part the beautiful spring sunshine contrasted with the weight of concerns. In some ways it also was due to sheer numbers who came though obviously that was also encouraging. On reflection it was more because we seem increasingly to live in a society in total denial about Climate change and we know wider change is called for than simply changing our own lifestyles and living out some sort of alternative. We have to convince others and that is hard. The debate about the word ‘capital’ highlighted this for me.

The first workshop I went to was the one led byJonathan Essex. He started promptly and I therefore had missed some of what I gathered were reflections on a crucial experience on his own journey of his time in Bangladesh. This had clearly given him a sense of real urgency to campaign and work in politics for change. The link between campaigning and politics was strong and so politics for him was about arguing for what he believed in, not doing just what your party tells you. I thought his summary about ‘having a future, not having more in the future’. was a powerful way of expressing our concerns.

Words tumbled out so fast and intensely it was sometimes difficult to hold on to key points but I came away clear that if there is to be change we need to have a ‘heart’ for the issue. Knowledge alone doesn’t change behaviour. We also need to find ways of looking at situations with an emphasis on the positive. He cited a ‘Love Redhill’ campaign, rather than being ‘against’ particular problems.

My second workshop was in a very different style withChris Sunderland. This was helpful in itself and also provided a balance to the afternoon. I kept the kind of poem of headings for an approach to reconnecting with the ‘treasure’ within so we find resources to keep on going.

  • the need for inner transformation
  • living in the shallows
  • marketisation of the mind
  • desertification of the soul
  • the spiritual formation of the Hebrew people
  • storytelling and harvest
  • shalom
  • the spiritual formation of Jesus
  • recognising and receiving the gift
  • learning to play
  • expressing the life
  • reconciliation with creation
  • way of life
  • daily prayer

Another memory of the day is eating my lunch sitting on a gravestone in the church yard, listening to wedding music, observing a wedding party of all ages, a conversation with one of the elderly guests and watching a young child. This gave a real sense of continuity and of our responsibility to future generations.


The worship throughout was all that I have come to expect of CEL events, lively, with a love and use of words that is thought and action provoking and life transforming. It also linked to Paul’s understanding of the ‘dark’ side of hope.

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