Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Heaven in Ordinary"

is always a pretty good description of the wonder that is Greenbelt - but it was also the theme of this year's festival.
Certainly the whole weekend was, from my perspective, pretty heavenly.
All the offspring are more than capable of fending for themselves these days (the Dufflepud, indeed, showed a promising tendency to worry about my welfare, and treated me to wonderous MochaMania hot chocolate with mind blowing quantities of squirty cream at the end of each day- which has to be a sign of a good upbringing, I feel). Moreover the LCM was kept busy driving contributors to and from the site...which left me free to chat with the people I most wanted to see (though as always it was frustrating to have near misses of proper conversation with some friends), to hear the speakers and music I most wanted to hear, and generally have a selfishly blissful (or blissfully selfish?) time.

I loved it.

It was one of those weekends when everything flowed perfectly. For me, there were fewer programme clashes than usual, and I never left a venue wishing I'd made a different choice.
The queues were mostly manageable and the one time I failed to get in to hear a speaker, I was with friends whom I only really see at GB, so we enjoyed some extra talking time instead.
I listened to some truly excellent speakers including Mark Yaconelli, James Alison and Lucy Winkett, who were all positively inspiring. As someone who struggles with a longing to do everything, to stand as advocate for anyone in need, to try and change the world even if I can't get round to changing my sheets, Lucy's advice to "Do what you can, when you can" was hugely liberating....I'm not coming home with a car-load of guilt at all the campaigns I'm not supporting, the times I'm silent, the times when I walk away from a possible battle.
"You'll know your moment," she said.

I found myself crying as I talked to Mark Yaconelli at his book signing about how the whole Festival missed his father and he told me how much it mattered to him that he'd finally come to see the place where Mike had felt most at home.
I cried again as Mother Frances shared the words of a child from Helen House, the children's hospice that she founded,
"Death is being born backwards".

Actually, I cried quite alot, but in a very positive way...during the Eucharist, surrounded by such a wonderful community...when I saw the sea of prayer balloons floating overhead, released by the congregation at Main Stage and then drifting over to join those we released from the arena.
The sky was full (this picture by no means does justice) and it was awe inspiring to realise that each balloon represented some 20 people...that is alot of people breaking bread together...and I loved the fact that our group was a mix of family, friends from St M's, online friends and people we only met that morning...another glimpse of heaven in ordinary. More on some of the New Forms worship later.

On Sunday afternoon I stood on the Grandstand, taking photos of the racecourse and breathing in as much Greenbelt as I could and a passer-by commented
"You try to take it all in - but there's so much that you can never manage it"
I guess that's a good observation in terms of blogging the festival too...and I need time to let it all sink in while I catch up with sleep and washing.
More posts in the days to come.

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