A small green caravan sits inside a walled garden in a city churchyard. Surrounded by old buildings and the sounds of traffic and passers-by, it looks forgotten and vulnerable. The vehicle that brought it here is long gone and there is no road to travel onwards. It is stuck. Quite lost. Left behind. Delivered to the wrong destination. What a waste. Just think where it might be. High on a hill in a beautiful landscape, overlooking the sea perhaps, instead of next to an ivy-covered wall and a metal container filled with market stall equipment. Who would ever have thought a caravan could have found itself in such an awful situation?
However, isn’t the Caravan just perfect as it is – a totally fitting place for clients when they come to its door for the first time? They feel their own lostness and stuckness too. They also feel separated from something. Fragile. Transient. Out of place, without a road and without a direction. To those in need the Caravan must appear an approachable kindred spirit.
Even though it looks out of place, the beauty of this particular caravan is that it doesn’t look that unhappy. It is unapologetically painted bright green and it stands proudly. Despite its predicament, it is somehow at ease. Does it offer a strange kind of hope – a hope against expectation perhaps? Perhaps life can’t offer all you once dreamt of, but it might be bearable. Like the lost caravan, you might even find your own place.
Our role as counsellors is to introduce its visitors to an uncomfortable truth – one that we are learning ourselves by coming here. That is, unless a traveller truly knows where they come from, they can’t move forward purposefully at all – and the only way to find that out is to journey inwards. Only on this kind of expedition can someone find out where they are truly at and what has brought them here.
So the Caravan not only represents being stuck, it also represents the possibility of a journey back to ourselves. A journey where after a time the landscape will start to look familiar again. A journey home.
But first, the knock on the door.
The Caravan also reveals something else. The potential of a relationship – that sharing our travels with other people can be worthwhile. This place is made for two, for the journeyer and the guide – a temporary companion for the first part of the trip, until an inner guide is found.
The Caravan also represents us as counsellors. We hold the potential of relationship too. The Caravan gives me a template for my practice – to provide a temporary space to witness the stories of others – a purposefully designed space to support the emergence of true voices. A humble presence fulfilling a powerful purpose.