or as it's becoming known: Greenbelt (the muddy one). How did it go for me? Well, if squelchilly [sp] Would I go back? Now I really wasn't expecting to write this a month ago but yes - against all my expectations, this year's festival, my first as a volunteer, surpassed my expectations, which, let's face it, after some less than positive experiences last year weren't exactly set high. Cut to a dialogue on good old Shipoffools for some background - basically, GB can be a lonely place if you're not there with a group or partner. Volunteering is a good way to alleviate at least some of this.
Yup, you've said it. This year's volunteering was a calculated risk for me; if it hadn't worked , I'd decided to take a rest from GB for a few years. Happily the outcome was positive. I'll Be Back.Agree that the dynamics change when you're not attached - to partner or group. (My other half no longer 'does' Greenbelt). With just one exception that I knew of,all my team were there either with their church or partner to go back to, although I felt quite sorry for the couples who were working different shifts in different venues and so hardly saw anything of each other all weekend!I found that not having that ready-made network to fall back on I really needed to push myself forward more than I'd normally do and valued those brief meetings I had all the more because of that. Ironically I went straight on to our annual church pilgrimage soon after GB - four days of enforced togetherness - the two complemented each other quite nicely!
Ok, that's got the navel-gazing out of the way, so what were my GB highlights this year? To be honest, between stewarding, helping on the TSSF stall in G Source, feeding, watering and resting, there weren't huge amounts of time left for galiavanting. I made it to a grand total of two talks and half a Franciscan Eucharist, the Sunday morning mud-fest (open air communion) and Last Orders on the Monday evening. So, in no particular order of merit:
1. My one and only shower on Friday afternoon after two days on site. I felt A New Woman.
1b. Volunteer welcome on arrival by Tractorgirl. Great to see a friendly face.
2. Dave Tomlinson in Jerusalem on the Friday evening on How to Be a Bad Christian: and a Better Human Being. Never did get that half pint of Bad Christian though.
3. Veronica Zundel, Jo Swinney and Hazel Rolston talking about their experiences of depression and how our church communities can help, rather than hinder sufferers - up against a background of the Iona Community's Big Sing and a wonky heater that couldn't be switched off! I reckon a copy of this talk should be compulsory listening for all church leaders and congregations.
4. Helping at the TSSF stall in G Source, even if this was more limited than previously because of my volunteer shifts. I just love the variety of people there; you never know who's going to pass by, what kind of conversation you're going to have: the mundane, the quirky and the totally unexpected. Chatting to the other stallholders: Who knew there was an Association of Christian Motorcyclists? Where else can you corner a (quite senior-looking) clergyman and bore him with your pet peeve about Vocation Not Only Being For Those Who Are Called To Ordination? Or have the chance to engage with Inclusive Church, PCN and Modern Church all in one place?
5. The brief meetings mentioned above: particularly the friend and her husband who offered to take me into Cheltenham to buy dry clothes after Saturday's mudbath. (Luckily I didn't need to take them up on their kind offer!) The fellow tertiary who invited me along to The Franciscans - I took shelter in their refectory during the cloudburst.
6. The volunteers' lounge: Oh the joy of having a dry, quietish place to retreat to with copious supplies of tea, coffee and biscuits!
7. The distinctly Franciscany ethos to many of the events - even if I didn't manage to get to some of them, and others which tantalisingly took place in the venue I was stewarding in but which I wasn't able to hear properly due to noise pollution and the heavens opening: at times we wondered whether Eden should have been renamed Noah's Ark. No pics of the venue from me - only took one photo throughout the weekend - so will link readers to another blogger who did - hello, Inverted Commas and thank you! It was a great place, and it'll be exciting to see how it develops over the next year or so.
8. The young chap who struck up a deep, theological conversation with me one evening as we struggled through the quagmire outside the Big Top. Only at Greenbelt!
9. The other venue volunteer who let me tag along with them to Last Orders on the Monday night.
10. And last, but not least - the driver on Tuesday morning who drove me all the way back from the gate to mainstage to collect my luggage and get me out to the car park - even as the golf carts were being called back in by taxi control. Without her, and the site steward who kept an eye on my stuff, I'd be heading to the physiotherapist by now.
So there you have it. Can't close without leaving you with another glimpse of The Mud and puddles: The Flood in G Source (thanks Banksyboy) and the err... not sure if iconic is the right word to describe it - image of Greenbelt (the muddy one) and lucky subject of last week's Church Times Caption Competition. I've been having a field day!