Right, all you kind souls who've been enquiring as to the success or otherwise of "Into the Wilderness".
In the cold light of dawn, having swept up sand from all sorts of unlikely places and surveyed the damage that one carefree teenager can wreak with a taper injudiciously applied to a length of sari fabric, I can nonetheless record that on balance it was a Good Thing :-)
There follows more information than any of you will either need or want...but it's good for me to review it aloud, so here goes. Feel no obligation to read on!
The church adapted itself beautifully to this new phenomenon...I was really pleased with the way the lighting worked, with the uplights on their dimmest setting and pools of candlelight at many of the stations. The meditations music from Late Late Service Deep Peace CD was absolutely right, and stilled almost everyone instantly.
I never got round the whole trail myself, but had a pretty good time just sitting by the door, with it all unfolding gently around me.
Due to time constraints and the size of the Youth Group, we had to start people off in groups of 4 and despite suggestions that they might prefer to alter the order of stations, provided they remained within the same zone (there were 3; the inward journey; encounter with God and the journey out) they seemed rather intent on clumping together to start with at least.
We used the font for a "letting go" meditation at the very beginning and one rather lovely thing that happened was that people started using the water the cross on each other's foreheads before they moved on...pilgrimage is a group activity.
Some stations held them for ages. One, "Shaping", involved reading lines from ps 139 and then using clay to respond to them. EVERYONE spent ages with this and even those who'd been rushing round at top speed seemed to become still as they worked here
They moved on from this to holy space...bread and grape juice set out on a tablecloth just inside the altar rails, with beanbags and suggestions that they just chill and be with God; again something I'd not envisaged happened...because they tended to arrive there in twos, though they weren't talking, some groups gave each other the bread. It felt as if some powerful stuff was going on here.
All of them had a very positive response to the "Impressions" station (that's right, the one for which I need the sandpit and the not-so-dry sand) .and the buried treasure scrolls seemed to strike a chord too.
Initial feedback suggests that even those who mostly whizzed along the trail say they got something out of the experience...and two or three specifically came to find me and tell me that they'd found it helpful. (I do have the Visitor's Book...but feel rather that I shouldn't be reading that, since most of the comments are addressed to God).
So...all in all...
Would I do it again?
Another "Yes". In fact I'm hoping to use much of the same material, plus some specific Passion tide material, in the week leading up to Palm Sunday. (If anyone has any bright ideas of how I could somehow combine alt.worship with traditional Stations of the Cross, I could do it in Holy Week itself....but at the moment that looks rather a daunting impossibility...).
But it was, as all you alt.worship gurus know, a very labour-intensive activity, which I would really have struggled with if my family had not been on half term and feeling obliging. At the moment I cant see anyone in the congregation who looks a likely ally for future creations, so they'll have to be very thinly scattered through the year, unless that changes.
It was a water-shed for me, as I've really struggled with the building's limitations since arriving here, but last night I saw the whole thing differently...but then, transformation is rather the point of the exercise, I think.