William Methven savours the memory of his life-changing Foundation Programme journey.
The Foundation Programme was a remarkable opportunity to take three months out of my everyday life to explore my relationship with myself, others and the divine while being held by a community’s loving energy, and through this experience to empower me to give greater service in the world. The Foundation Programme is a profound experience on a number of levels unique to every individual.
I took part in FP15 from March to June 2010, having had a connection with the community since 2001 and taken part in a number of courses over those years. Having swum in the shallows of the Findhorn community I had that vague yearning to try the deep end, but couldn’t see how I could take 3 months out of my day-to-day life to do the Foundation Programme.
Then in January of this year I found myself with space in my life. I had resigned my job, mainly because it was no longer possible for me to deny the needs of my inner world, the part of me that the modern world had required me to deny over the years in order to function within the system effectively. The game was up, I realised. Yet I had no clear idea of what I was to do, I knew what I shouldn’t do and I knew that nature abhors a vacuum. Something would come in.
As the days unfolded Findhorn started to call me as it has in the past. It became clear I had to revisit my relationship with Findhorn and through that find something I needed. So in early February I found myself spending a few days in the Park. Lying in bed one night, pondering my situation, clear guidance came out of ether: “Do the Foundation Programme.” I find at certain key points in my life I am fortunate to hear very clear guidance. It is usually short and very to the point in the form of a single sentence setting out the next step I must take. Here it was again as clear as a bell with no ambiguity. Yet being a poor sinner, eternally wrestling with doubts, I needed to check it out just to be sure. So I decided to visit Bookings the next morning to enquire about the Foundation Programme. If I got a positive vibe then I would apply to FP15 starting mid March. I’m no Peter Caddy!
Of course I got a positive vibe. There were places available. No less a person than Judith Bone was there to answer my questions and to reassure me that it was a “wonderful” programme, with a smile and a look that told me all I needed to know. I came out of the Bookings office and said to the Universe: “OK, Foundation Programme it is.” The next day my application went in.
On the day of my interview in Cluny it snowed. As I turned off the main road to walk through the woods to Cluny I realised I was treading on virgin snow. No-one had walked this path since the snow fell. I was the first. I loved the symbolism. The woods were all in white, straight out of Narnia. Cluny itself was like a magical mansion in the late winter snow. So when in my attunement I was asked by Paul, one of the focalisers, to imagine a column of white light, it was easy. Everything was white light that day!
Things proceeded in harmony from that day until I found myself registering in Cluny on day one of Foundation Programme 15, greeted by Paul and Ilsemarie who were to be our focalisers for 12 weeks. It was Ilsemarie who I remembered so clearly from my very first visit to Findhorn for my Experience Week in early 2001, in lovely Cullerne Gardens. It was so good to make that connection again.
The 12 weeks – six in Cluny and six in the Park – were a true voyage of discovery, the like of which I am unlikely to repeat. The experience was rich in learning, highly challenging at times, and deeply satisfying. There are many memories of days spent in a circle drinking good energy; of practical tasks in service departments; being held by the focalisers and other Findhorn members;soaking up knowledge of new systems and ways of being on this earth; learning from my fellow participants, coming to understand and love each other; days spent on the Isle of Erraid letting things sink in quietly; dancing, writing poetry; helping each other to grow; being challenged and rising to the challenge using energy I didn’t have before.
Findhorn is a mystery school. This is something I learnt during those 12 weeks. It is many things to many people. So it is with life in general – a mystery. With Findhorn you get it in a stronger, purer, distilled form. The Foundation Programme brought me closer to that form and to a better understanding of myself and my life as well as the lives of others within this mystery school. I shall never forget hearing the life stories of the other participants during our first week together and being awe-struck by the great lives that were unfolding in front of me. “Great” is a poor word to describe them, but it was the first word that came to me. There was sadness, there was grief, trauma, pain, loss as well as joy, gratitude and love. But what struck me was a sense of great achievement through much adversity and what an epic adventure each life represented – even in its supposed ordinariness. I learnt what wonderful creatures we are and that our lives must be cherished, not trashed though cynicism, bitterness or superficiality.
There are many more insights I gained during this time about love, patience, tolerance and the self: too many to capture here. But I think this sense of wonder at life will be what will sustain me and inspire me for the rest of my life.
I shed tears the day my Foundation Programme ended. They were tears of loss, gratitude and of love for the souls I had shared the special time and this tremendous journey with, for the Angel of Beauty who had guided us and for my own Angel of Play and for all the wonderful teachings and experiences I had received from Findhorn’s facilitators. They had all become my family whom I had grown to love. But I knew nothing lasts forever in this world. Learning to deal with change is one of the many lessons life teaches. I knew this day would always come and yet, during the 12 weeks, it seemed as if it never would.
I held in my hand a letter I had been asked to write to myself before joining the programme, setting out what I hoped for, needed and expected from the 12 weeks. Now I had this letter returned unopened. I could not remember what I had written in that different time and place. I hesitated to open it and reconnect so abruptly with my previous life. I steeled myself and read the letter. To my amazement the person writing to me captured all that I had received from the programme – all the writer’s hopes and expectations had been realised. It cheered me up and I congratulated myself for my foresight and wisdom. How very wise was that person who listened to the guidance and sent me on this journey! I learned to love myself a little bit more even in the closing moments of the Foundation Programme. (The self and the ego were still very healthy.)
As I sat in the lobby of the Main Sanctuary in the Park where we had just conducted our completion ceremony, I looked out the door to the world beyond, a new world for me that I must now claim. It was a bright, sunny spring morning that beckoned. All around was bright light: the circle had been completed from that day in Cluny, so long ago it seemed, when I walked through the virgin snow towards the white light. Now I must walk through that door out into the bright light and the rest of my life. It felt like a rebirthing. I waited a few moments to still myself and then walked through the door out into the light of the world, giving thanks for the journey to those around me and to my loving wife, Jenny, who saw my need.
William was born in Ireland and now lives in Scotland. He is on a journey of discovery with his wife, Jenny. He is the father of three sons, Callum, Euan and David, and is descended from Scottish coal miners and farm hands.