Category Archives: Greenbelt

Heaven

When Mr B accidently sent some train tickets to our old address he popped over there to get them, and found a whole pile of post in our names. Including Greenbelt’s a ‘Wing and a Prayer’, their newsletter for volunteers and angels. I was just reading it this morning and found a very cool poem by Rosie Miles which I’d like to share.

If heaven might happen
it would look like a racecourse
full of people not horses.

Everyone would have a place to pitch thier tent
and there would be a lot of mud and weather.

We would all be the same as before
except our bladder functions would have dried up.

There would be a place
on the top floor of heaven
to be very quiet.

There would also be skateboarding,
bands playing underground where the average age is fourteen,
a smorgasbord of stall to get food.

The programme of What Is On In Heaven
would be very full.

There would be a soundtrack of eternal drumming.
The Big Drummer would slow the rhythm
so everyone could get the beat.

You would be able to sit in one corner of heaven
and watch the amazing wide sky.

In another you could listen to a man
speak clearly of how he fought for human rights
when he was alive. You could hear
a politician, a priest, a poet, a shy stuttering actor,
a Dominican monk, a cultural commentator.

You could wonder what would have happened
– what might still happen-
if Jesus had come as a girl.

You could learn to jive or tango
(step, two, three, four).

You could do none of these things.

You could sit on the steps of heaven’s grandstand
and play monster Connect 4 with the friends
who helped you pitch your tent,
watching all the people wearing wellingtons
imprinted with smarties or jelly beans.

Ten-foot transvestite angels would waft past
blowing bubbles of ambient music.

Strangers would smile at you
and people would have brought their dogs.

There would be a Big Top and jugglers on
monocycles

and all the people on the doors of heaven’s venues
checking that you were wearing heaven’s
wristband
would be unfailingly cheerful.

You would marvel at their ability
to herd an impossible number of people
into a finite space.

Blessed are they who signal to others the end of
the queue.
In heaven they shall be the salt of the earth.

And you would belong there – really belong there –
because heaven would not be about
keeping your doubt out

or your many questions.
In fact, if heaven might happen there will be
no certainty at all

just a community of the wounded
who are as lost as you are
eating churros dipped in chocolate

trying to sing
the intelligence of the heart.

Greenbelt

I realised last night as I was going to sleep that I hadn’t mentioned the actual Greenbelt festival in the previous post, when I’d intended to. So I thought I’d give you a quick synopsis.

Best Talk – Gene Robinson’s ‘In the Eye of Storm’ It was truely inspiring. And I told him so when I bought his book and managed to get 3rd in line to get it signed! He thanked me for coming and I insisted that he needed more thanks because he’d travelled further than me – I only live an hour or so away!

Best Music – Duke Special. Mr B loves Duke Special but I’d never really been exposed to him at all, so I was determined to see him at Greenbelt. Unfortunately I returned to my tent a couple of hours before he was due to start, decided to close my eyes for a few minutes, and woke up 2.5 hours later! I jumped up and walked really fast over to main stage, when I realised I hadn’t given myself chance to wake up properly. So we ended up sitting in the picnic area, watching and listening from a slight distance. But it was still good. And we bought a couple of his albums.

Best Spiritual Moment – Sunday morning. But not at the main service. I was camping with people from my church, most of whom decided they didn’t want to go to the service. So Mr B cooked eggy bread for everyone for breakfast, and then one of the girls returned from having a shower with a brown bag that they’d been handing out at the service. We read through the programme, picked out the bits we liked, and had our own little prayer and oil blessing time between us. It was lovely.

Best Overall Thing – This year I think I got the balance right between catching up with friends and going to programmed items. In previous years I’ve often felt that I’ve spent all weekend having drinks with old and current friends, which has been great, but I felt that I missed out on a lot of the actual festival. But this year I managed to chat to most of the people that I wanted to, and still went to most of the programmed stuff that I’d planned to. And one friend that I chatted briefly to, immediately commented how grown up I seemed. Which I took as a complement…

Holidays

Today is the last day of my holiday. It’s been a busy but good holiday. The wedding that I blogged about a couple of week ago, was the start of it. And then we went off to Greenbelt. Being on site from the Tuesday was quite interesting – when I got there most of the racecourse was empty of tents. The big tents were all up, but none of the stalls, decorations, main stage or thousands of people were there yet! It was quite odd on Friday when so many people arrived and we were none longer camping in an empty field. I was part of the ‘site vibing’ team, who made and put up most of the decorations around site. Giving the site it’s vibe. I had to work Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and the following Tuesday. It was good fun and satisfying when the site looked pretty, but was also hard work. I re-learnt how to drill, saw and spray paint, among other things. Nobody had ever let me loose with a spray can before! And now my boots are tinged with (Hebron) red… All the big venue signs were handmade from stratch, although on site we only finished them off – a lot of the work had been done in the month before Greenbelt. We’re now hoping that they keep the venue names the same for next year! For those who weren’t there, I’ll try to put some photographs of signs below.

P8300040
P8300051
I spray painted both of these signs, the Festival Bowl one took an awful lot of masking tape… Oh, and the Hebron sign was actually going vertical off the ground – the photo needs to be flipped by 90 degrees to be accurate, but it’s easier to read this way! There were lots of other signs but I won’t bore you with all of them.

When we’d finished packing all the decorations at about 4.30 on Tuesday, I caught the train back home and spent the next few days catching up on washing, sorting through paperwork and relaxing. On Friday night we went to a lovely birthday party of a friend. It was at a local pub which has an old fashioned Skittles lane! After you’d had your three turns at trying to knock down the skittles, you had to walk down the isle and stand all the skittles back up and put the balls on the ramp that would return them to the throwing point! It was great fun. Mr B ended up with the highest individual score with 33, and I was chuffed that I’d managed to get 29. We were in two teams, but when we added up the scores for each team, both teams had ended up with exactly the same score!! Much to some people’s disguntlement, the birthday girl decided to leave it at that.

Then on Saturday we packed our bags again and headed to Birmingham where we spent the rest of the day with friends of ours, who have 2 teenagers and a 7 year old, so the day was enjoyable but lively. On Sunday we said goodbye to them, and headed off to the Moseley Folk Festival. We had a lovely day, lying on the grass listening to music and relaxing. It reminded me of afternoons at Cropredy – as there’s only one stage area theres no need for the long walks in between veunues that you get at Greenbelt, and there’s much more chance to chill out with a book. It was a much smaller festival than both Cropredy and Greenbelt, so it felt more intimate. Given the main stage’s requirements at Greenbelt, it’s difficult to then make it into a space where people can take picnic blankets, chairs and a book. I have seen people doing this at the main stage at Greenbelt, but a more intimate space, like the one at Moseley, is much more welcoming to this activity. I was also impressed with little things at Moseley – like they gave away a free CD with 15 songs from the artists from the weekend with the £5 programme. And the music of course was good, I especially enjoyed Cara Dillon. The only real crititism that I had was that there didn’t seem to be quite as much energy in the audience as I’d expect. Often when artists tried to interact with the audience and get them to make a bit more noise, the audience didn’t really respond. Maybe this comes from the more chilled out atmosphere, I don’t know… Or maybe it livened up more after we’d left – we had to leave towards the end of Cara’s set as we had to drive home. Photographs of Moseley Folk might have to wait a few days – they’re still on my camera!

Anyway, it’s been a very good holiday. Just hoping that work isn’t *quite* as busy as it was in the week before my holiday…

Living in a Tent

Is basically what we’re doing for 10 days… Well, no – this afternoon we’ve returned home after one nights camping, and tomorrow Mr B departs for 8 days camping, and I join him on Tuesday. You might imagine it’s been a slight logistical nightmare, but I quite enjoy organisational marathrons like that, so it’s been fine.

Yesterday we went to a wedding of two friends of ours. The ceremony was beautiful, tearful and popular, although it had too many smells and bells for my liking. I’d never been to a wedding with communion before. It was lovely in a way, to see the bride and groom share communion together, but giving it out to the 150+ guests meant the service was very long. Afterwards we went over the road to the chaplaincy gardens where we enjoyed bubbly and photos, before all of the guests made the 30 mile journey to the reception location. The reception was in a lovely, large house which is owned and lived in by a family, but it’s so massive they also rent it out to wedding parties! They had a large garden which we utilised a lot – there was a yurt in it which was decorated with rugs, cushions and lights which was a brilliant chill out space. On the lawn there were large garden games set out for people to play, chairs and tables and a gazebo with the cake (a fairy tale castle cake!) underneath. When we arrived to the reception there was tea and cake for everyone to enjoy, then the speeches were delieved out on the lawn, after which the cake was cut, and then dinner commenced. Dinner was a bring and share arrangement – on their wedding site beforehand there were about 10 different receipes that people were invited to make and bring. It worked very well – we were definitely not short of food! Once you’d collected your dinner you could choose which room of the house or garden you ate in – there was a large dining room but not everyone could fit in it! After dinner there was the first dance, and everyone continued dancing till the early hours.

As the reception was so far away, the invitation gave you details of local B&Bs or gave you the option of camping at the reception. At the back of the house was a field owned by the house owners, which they allowed guests to camp in overnight for free. It was very odd – as soon as we’d parked the car at the reception, we got the tents out and proceeded to put them up. In our wedding suits and dresses… It made for some amusing photographs! I was wearing a dress for the wedding, but had a hoodie for camping – so whilst assembling the tent I simply put my ‘Swansea Uni’ hoodie on over my posh frock! I almost wished I could have kept it on – it was more than a little chilly being outside for so much of the evening. I should have bought a smarter, warm jumper that I could have worn – I ended up borrowing Mr B’s jacket!

Anyway, we decided that as we were camping so much, we might as well do it properly. We’d had to get out all the camping stuff for Mr B leaving for Greenbelt tomorrow anyway, so we just picked out the bits we wanted at the wedding. This included chairs, stove and eggs and bacon for breakfast. Everyone else had thrown a tent in as a last minute thought, and it was lovely to be able to share our bacon and eggs with our friends this morning.

If you’re planning to come to Greenbelt, I will see you there. I will be playing ‘Spot Jen’s Bunting’.

Greenbelt 08 – “the year Jen got ill”

Yup – “Greenbelt 08 – The year Jen got ill”, as the person who took v.good care of me was quoted. I vomited numerous times on Sunday night and during the day on Monday; made everything stink of sick (I accidentally only opened one layer of the tent door…); and spent a total of 5 hours in the GB medical centre. But thankfully I had Mr B with me, who cleaned up the tent; sat on the floor next to me whilst I slept in the medical centre; and forgot about everything he wanted to see on Monday so he could look after me. I’m now, just about, getting better. Yesterday I didn’t vomit at all, but couldn’t manage to eat v.much, so when I tried to do something I wobbled. Today I’ve been fairly lethargic, but have eaten most of a small lunch, so I’m hoping to get my energy back sometime soon. I was supposed to be working a night shift tonight, but I’ve rung in sick.

But, despite the sickness, Greenbelt 08 was still very good. Before the sickness, I managed to see a few talks, a few good music artists and saw numerous friends. And although I was physically sick, psychologically I was in a Good Place, which definitely helped.

Trying to see everyone I knew at Greenbelt was quite difficult, although the SCM / wib meets helped. Due to Mr B, I camped with people from my church in my New Home, instead of the SCM crowd, as I have done in recent years. This made trying to see SCM people difficult at times, not to mention friends from Manchester, Swansea, wibloggers and people with other random connections. And Mr B isn’t exactly short of people he knows at GB. Too many people! I think I spent more time socialising in the Tiny Tea Tent / Organic Beer tent, then I did going to actual events, but I’m glad about that. It was good to see the people I did manage to see, and for those who I missed, I’m sorry.

For the first time in 6 years of GB, I didn’t go to the main communion service. In fact, the only worship I went to was the one I was involved with leading, unless you count Beer and Hymns! This wasn’t intentional, it just worked out like that. I chose not to go to the main service because we were meeting to set up everything for our service straight afterwards, so I preferred to have a quiet couple of hours at the tent. Our service… those who were there will be able to tell you it was, erm, different. I just hope that the message we were trying to give came through though. Its hard to tell when you know it inside out, and already know the point of x, y and z. It was long in the planning, and had many ups and downs, but overall I think it came through alright. Whether I get involved with a service of that style again is one for me to think about. I think next year I’d like to get involved with something else at GB, and stick to just planning the little services at church. But we’ll see.

Greenbelt Photoblog

Well nearly… I wanted to put up a selection of Greenbelt photos, instead of talking about it this year. I hadn’t had time to do it up until today, because I’ve been traveling round the country, and now I try to do it, and my Dad’s computer is being silly and won’t let me do anything with my photos on Flickr, to transfer them across to here. I’ve also been trying to put up lots of Greenbelt photos onto facebook and it doesn’t like that either – it gets stuck halfway through the upload. Sigh, technology. Anyway, you can find my best (and one of John’s) photos, here – did try to put them in a separate set for you, but the computer didn’t even like doing that! Sorry for the lack of descriptions and titles – will add them in as soon as I can persuade the computer to play nicely.

General Update

As I was reminded the other day, I haven’t blogged much recently, so I thought I’d give you a general update.

I’m currently on placement, so have been busy doing 12 hour shifts, the other side of Swansea which adds extra travelling time onto my working day. I’ve only been there a week so far, but I’ve settled in reasonably well and am beginning to know where everything is and how the department works. I’m getting to see lots of things that I haven’t had experience of before and its really exciting. Although obviously, I don’t show my excitement at unusual conditions when working with them… its more an inner ‘ooh!!’ than anything else.

Talking of exciting, I’ve just booked my Greenbelt ticket!!! 😀 I got the latest publicity through the post yesterday and decided I had to book it before the end of this month. So I did. I’m not really excited about it yet though, I’ve got quite a lot of other stuff going on and so its difficult to think about and get excited about Greenbelt yet. Although, it usually works as quite a good distraction technique – Sarah and I have written each other an ‘other things to think about’ list – things to think about instead of the stuff you shouldn’t be thinking too much about! And she quite rightly, put Greenbelt right at the top of my list!!

In less exciting news, my laptop has broken. Lots. Well, it turns on and will log on as normal, but then it doesn’t do anything. After a couple of minutes, it refuses to respond to everything except the off button. It’ll work in safe mode, but thats about it. Its because I deleted a load of infected files, which were important for the computer to work. Oops. We tried doing a system repair with the orginal disk. It worked better for a short while but was still incredibly slow and it gradually got worse and now its back to not responding again. I’m going to have to do a complete system restore. I’ve got all my important files backed up on various sources, so it should be ok. Thankfully, my amazing housemate had a spare laptop which he kindly lent me! This has been fantastic because it means I can take my time to mend my laptop, and get on with internet procrastination work in the mean time!

Uni work at the moment is going very slowly. Its difficult to find the time and motivation for it when I’m working full time on the ward. The second half of my dissertation is due in the 30th April, so I’ve got a bit of time yet, I just need to get on with it! So far I’ve written about 1000 words, but before I can write anymore I need to do a lot more reading.

There are several more specific things that I keep wondering about whether or not to post, and keep on changing my mind! So you might hear from me more frequently…

Freedom Bound

As promised, below is a reflection I used in morning prayer during the SCM conference. It is my adaptation of a prayer Garth Hewitt wrote for Greenbelt 04, based on Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream Speech’.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, and the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

Let freedom ring for our own preconceptions of the bible and of this world, so that we may overcome the barriers that prevent us from grasping the true freedom provided by Jesus' message of peace, love and equality.
Let freedom ring for our hearts and minds and lifestyles, so that we are part of the community of love and justice that reflects the message and ways of Jesus.

Let freedom ring for the refugees and asylum seekers who are fleeing to this land for safety but are treated first as criminals.
Let freedom ring for the forgotten children on the streets of Africa, Latin America and Asia so that the street children of today, may find dignity and a hopeful future.
Let freedom ring for the Muslims initially accused, and presumed guilty before being found innocent.
Let freedom ring from behind the wall in Palestine and across to the land of Israel so that all may live in safety, dignity and justice regardless of religion or race.
Let freedom ring for all those suffering with HIV and AIDS, so that suitable drugs will be made available to them.
Let freedom ring for our church and society so all are included with justice; regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexual preference.
Let freedom ring to every corner of our world.

This is our hope – this is our faith – and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every town, we will be able to speed up the day when all of God's children, black and white, women and men, young and old, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual: ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last'.

Greenbelt

So, Greenbelt. It was good – I enjoyed myself. I didn't get to go to lots of things – as ever there were items on the programme I wished I could have gone to. Like the Taize worship in Centaur, which we got into, but had to leave almost straight away to get to my shift on the SCM stall. But we made up for it by ensuring we made it to the Sunday evening Taize night prayer. Other highlights include Martyn Joseph, when I got very excited and jumped around lots, and Cara Dillion who really does have an amazing voice. I also enjoyed Jonny Baker's call for more creative and inspiring sermons and the Othona community's singing workshop.

The communion service was good, but I did miss having everyone in the one area. It seemed silly to split us up, when as the logo shows, we're all one. Having said that, I was impressed with John Bell's efforts to link us, by asking each group to shout over to the other group. And, generally, having the main stage situated where it was seemed better – it made it more accessable for people who wanted to just sit back on the grass and listen to the music and I often felt claustrophobic listening to music in the crowded stage two. Although the new mainstage was more open to the elements, it did feel more welcoming somehow.

As I mentioned earlier, I helped on the SCM stall. This year we were making peace cranes out of paper. This took me a while to get the hang of, but one or two Christmas trees later, I eventually managed to do them myself! This activity seemed to attract a large amount of primary school aged children! I quite enjoyed teaching these children how to make the cranes, though I was very aware that it did seem to deter other (slightly-more-interested-in-SCM) people away from the stall, which was a shame. SCM released their new book over the weekend, which was very exciting (or at least it was when the bookshop eventually put the copies out for sale!).

I was also camped with fellow SCMers, which was great fun. There were about 20 of us altogether, camped in a circle around a gazebo – which unfortunately didn't last very long. It was nice to see people gradually emerge from their tent in the morning, and to stay up late singing silly songs into the early hours of the morning!

Overall though it was a good weekend. Having the opportunity to meet up with old and new friends was as good as going to the music, worship and talks.