Adrian G R Scott BD MSc
‘Can I trust my inner compass and continue this
migratory flight to a rewritten me?’
Ultimately the best guidance comes from within, in the quote above from The Call of the Unwritten I speak of an inner compass, however it has often taken others to help me to find that trustworthy direction inside myself.
Throughout my life I has found guides. ‘When the student is ready the teacher appears’ goes the old aphorism. This has been true for me, from Father Leonard May in my early days as a convert to Christianity and my shared attempts to live an experimental religious life inspired by St Francis to training for the priesthood and being guided by various spiritual directors.
After deciding not to be ordained I worked with and was influenced by Sister Christine Frost and was employed by Bishop Victor Guazzelli in the East End of London, both guiding me towards working for social change. I moved to Sheffield to study for a Masters Degree in Organisational Development and came under the influence of Sheffield Hallam University Business School’s Stuart Smith and David Tranfield. I gained a distinction and worked for a couple years doing research into Strategy Development and Organisational Archetypes. At the same time I began work as a Community Development Consultant and worked with Doncaster Council training workers and in Sheffield training Drug Support staff. At this time I engaged in Community Organising training and worked as an organiser. I was influenced by Neil Jameson of Citizens UK and Ernesto Cortez in the Alinsky style of Organising for change that was pioneered by the Industrial Areas Foundation .
Poetry began to reemerge as a companion at this time along with a renewed commitment to deepening my spiritual life. I trained with Sheffield Anglican Diocesan Spirituality Adviser Nick Helm and became a Spiritual Director, later going on to be a tutor on the course. In 2001 I was lucky enough to have a personal retreat with Richard Rohr Ofm and then I attended the Men’s Rites of Passage at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. Returning to the UK with a desire to see this type of work flourish here. I helped to build the Male Journey UK delivering programmes for men in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
It was during this time I met Daniel O’Leary and Belden Lane both of whom influenced me greatly as a writer and a guide. I worked with both of these lovely men on male programmes and wider spirituality events. At the age of fifty I began to commit myself to paper taking the plunge to write poetry full time and to aid that process I attended one of David Whyte’s Salon events in the Cotswolds. This proved a catalyst and in 2012 I published The Call of the Unwritten my first collection of Poetry. In 2013 I followed up with Arriving in Magic, my second collection. David has been a good friend to me and I have recently worked as a guide on some of his walking tours.
In 2014 I suffered an onset of severe anxiety and entered into Jungian Psychotherapy. I have slowly recovered, greatly aided and influenced by Helen Drucquer, my therapist. She was trained under Anne Maguire who trained at the C G Jung Institute in Zurich. I published my third collection A Night Sea Journey as a response to these experiences. This led to the production of a podcast exploring the relationship between mental health issues and creativity. The Anxious Poet’s Podcast began in 2018 and has a loyal following. Helen Mort one of my guests on the Podcast has become another kind influence in my work.
‘Yet his story says there is a great lover at that
frayed tether end, calling you, renovating you
as you feel the slow dawn of visceral kindness.
If you allow yourself to face the terrible invitation
in the crumble-down church of your own brokenness,
it won’t leave you unwounded, but it will become a life.’
excerpt from The Terrible Invitation in A Night Sea Journey –
telling the story of Francis of Assisi
Leading retreats has been a perennial feature of my work over the last twenty years. I really enjoy working with groups exploring various themes around the seasonality of our ordinary lives. My last retreat, just before lockdown, was for a community called Contemplative Fire entitled the Art of Noticing – exploring the inner and outer world. This is what one of the participants wrote about her experience:
‘I found Adrian’s introductory session on Friday evening settling and encouraging, and quickly relaxed into the silence. Over the course of the input sessions he used readings of poetry – his and other’s – alongside storytelling and anecdotes. His willingness to share his own weaknesses and vulnerability immediately make it possible for others to do the same.’
I have covered many and various themes in my retreats such as Dreams, the Natural World, Anxiety and Vulnerability, Writing Down the Soul, The Passages of Life and Working with the Seasons.
Poetry Sharings, Workshops and Writing Groups
I have done many readings and sharings. I am very happy to work with small groups or in larger settings such as conferences and festivals, in person or online. These are by nature occasional as I always try and remain faithful to my primary work of writing.
I lead two writing groups and we are always happy to welcome new members. These sessions are every couple of months and each group has between 6-9 people. A volume of Poetry from these groups called The Rivelin Writers Volume One is available on this site. The groups are being conducted online at the moment. I am at present a regular contributor to an online event called Men Behaving Vulnerably. I love to work in Cafes, both to write and perform and up until lockdown was involved in a project called the Wednesday Word Smithy at Cafe #9 in Sheffield.
I had my first photographic and poetic exhibition at the Art House in Sheffield entitled Sheffield As I See It in December 2019. I was booked for two other exhibitions in Sheffield but unfortunately covid intervened.
Acting as a guide to groups and organisations, on an occasional basis, has been part of my work for many years. One example of this was with an organisation called RODA (relatives of Drug abusers), I advised on strategy, supporting the staff and mentoring individuals.
I recently worked with ASSIST, a charity that helps asylum seekers in Sheffield. I completed a history project about the founding of the organisation, interviewing, photographing and writing poetry about the founders. This was presented at the annual meeting.
I have also recently been working with Aviva’s Corporate Social Responsibility team. I led two retreats for them, one in person and one online. I also conducted one to one explorations with some of the team. I try to use Poetry as a conduit to a creative and safe space to explore uncertainty, courageousness and creativity.
This is what the team leader David wrote about the work we have done together –
‘We’ve worked with Adrian for over 2 years now. He’s helped us facilitate deep personal and strategic reflection and development sessions on team away days, as well as really effective follow up 121 coaching. Adrian combines years of professional experience with a poets eye for the simple truth hidden in plain sight. By creating a unique safe but brave space he’s helped us explore a wealth of insight and opportunity that is both personally fulfilling and pragmatic in the workplace as we seek to grow our responsible and sustainable business. Many organisations are trying to find their purpose, Adrian’s knack is to use the often untapped power of art and wisdom to hold the mirror just so – so you can see what’s staring you in the face’.
I have found that there are four key skills that this work demands. I work with a commitment to a robust vulnerability – offering a space to explore safe uncertainty – an understanding of ongoing discernment regarding themes and archetypes – and an ability to read the field. These elements are ones I have sought to develop and continue to be guided in as I go forward. I have a series of reflections about these elements on my Blog Page.
See also the Spiritual Direction and Events pages of this section for more.