Simon Parke  
Click here for Abbot Peter Click here for Simon's blog Click here for Simon's books Click here for Simon's consultancy Click here for Simon's retreats
      Cover of The Soldier, the Gaoler, the Spy and her Lover   Cover of Solitude   Picture of the cover of One Minute Mindfulness.

Photo of Simon in a mountaintop chapel on Rhodes

I don’t know where to begin

Newsletter: September 2016

Dear web friend

I don’t know where to begin.

It’s a common line when clients arrive for a session; and it’s exactly what I feel now.

Of course it’s OK not to know where to begin. There’s great pressure these days to know everything, to have the answer; because that’s a way of feeling in control. If we don’t have the answer, and don’t feel in control of finding it, that’s a good deal more frightening.

But the truth is, some of the best sessions start with the words, ‘I don’t know where to begin,’ and one reason may be that people then give up the pretence of control. We start somewhere – it doesn’t matter much where – and we see what unfolds.

So I’m hoping it will be the same with this letter, because I haven’t arrived at it with any strong sense of what should be in it. I write it at the beginning of the school year, as September rain falls. So it’s a transition day for many, an end of the summer, a new adventure. (I lit a candle this morning for all the mixed feelings such times bring.)

But that still doesn’t help me with my letter. It might be a momentous day, but I still don’t know where to begin, I’m still struggling for the right story, or the appropriate thought. But then, in a way, that would be a cop out now. Me trying to force a story into this – it would be an escape from my unknowing, a mad dash for some thing, when it might be best to live for a while with no thing.

I could tell an amusing anecdote or a moving story; but I might be telling it for the wrong reason. I might just be telling it to clutter my inner silence, to cover over my terrified unknowing. ‘Death by anecdote’ is when you listen to someone telling an (old or borrowed) anecdote in order to avoid listening to their feelings or taking responsibility for their feelings.

My feeling today is that I don’t know… and I sense that’s OK. In fact it might be better than OK. Meister Eckhart said, ‘To the one who knows nothing, all shall be revealed.’

Now that’s a promise.

So as the September rain falls, summer tans fade, travel memories linger and children arrive for the new school year with shiny shoes and hopes in their hearts, I don’t know where to begin… which is, in itself, a beginning… because we don’t have to know.

House news: I still have one or two places on my Beautiful Life retreat at Abbey House, Glastonbury, 31 Oct to 4 Nov 2016. So do spread the word. Details here:

And how about a mention for my Conversations with Meister Eckhart, as the great man has featured in this clueless letter. This is not a book to rush through; I can’t manage more than a page at a time. But he might be the slow-burning autumn company you need. Here’s (an independent bookshop) link to the Meister:

And now peace to you this autumn, whatever you feel and whatever you face. I may not know where to begin, but be grateful I can manage an end.

With very best wishes


Photo: Summer memories, a mountain chapel in Rhodes.

More newsletters



Get Simon’s newsletter

Email address