As we spend time together they share with me, and others, brief glimpses into their lives. I catch a sense of an adventurous spirit, a scared little girl, a proud man. For those hours we spend together I feel I am part of their lives.
Every so often I meet someone at class that inspires me, challenges me and makes me a better facilitator, teacher and person. They remind me of why I do what I do.
This weekend was one of those occasions where I met an inspiring and wonderful couple. I got a sense that they are going to make a difference in the world at a very practical and hands on level. They shared some of their story and I just wanted to know more.
As I reflected on this I also thought about what it is about people and places that creates a nurtured space where we can feel safe, be open and vulnerable.
The venue I was in this weekend is one of my favourites - a cute Quaker Meeting House where I naturally feel instantly at home. The simplicity reminding me of what is important.
When I arrived there was a small group in the room I usually use - a large plastic box chaotically overflowing with paper and books sat on a table in the middle of the room. A a flip chart stand stood between the facilitator and the three people sat in front of here. The women who was 'in charge' (she told me so) quickly and sharply moved her group into another room.
I turned off the lights, allowing the natural winters light to fill the room, moved the table to one side, rearranged the chairs in a flowing circle, opened a window a little, put some cheery music on and arranged my basket of things 'just so'.
A little later that morning I went into the kitchen and a woman from the other course joined me to make a cup of tea. She asked what we were doing and as I explained it was an NCT antenatal course she started to share her story of being a parent - 'doing' NCT, being a lone parent, working hard and as she stirred her tea she told me how her daughter died a couple of years ago at the age of 47. I gently touched her arm and passed a Jaffa Cake - (there is always tea and there is always cake!). She smiled sadly and thanked me.
I asked her what their course was and she looked a little embarrassed and said she'd lost her driving license for driving over the alcohol limit and the session was related to that. I looked quietly at her sipping my tea. My NCT group where working together on an activity in their room and in that moment I had all the time she needed.
She looked me in the eye and explained she had never been much of drinker but after her daughter died she couldn't make sense of the world and one day wondered if alcohol would help - it didn't. In that moment there was no need for words.
As she left the kitchen she smiled at me "I don't know what you just did but I feel so much better now". "It was the Jaffa Cake" I said lightly, rinsed my mug and went back to my own group.
This is what we do, as we spend time with one another - we create space. If that space is a nurtured space where vulnerability, excitement, challenge, tears and laughter can flourish then it is also a healing space.