Home from home: post GB 2011 analysis

After four days of being in the microcosm that is Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival, I'm back home doing a bit of restorative work and asking the Big Questions - namely, what can I possibly eat, has the milk gone off, what was that all about, what can I take from that experience, and how can I get those stains out of my jeans?

And this year - did I follow the ten commandments of GB (see previous post)?

Well, I certainly saw more than I ever have done before, by the simple trick of Turning up on Time. I know, I know... not only that, but I turned up early enough to grab a good seat and so discovered that the time wasn't wasted, it was transferred into a lovely opportunity to chat with friends and strangers.

I entered a photo in the swap, and am now the proud owner of another stranger's photograph that has a lot of meaning for me. More new friends made.

I avoided any sit-at-the-back-silliness in communion by staying in bed that morning. It worked for me.

The prayer room was used, as was the Tiny Tea Tent and the Jesus Arms where time was spent with my God and with the fabulous people he gave me as my friends. And everyone seemed pleased to see me too, in a 'NORM!" from Cheers kind of fashion.

Highlights included talks from Nadia Bolz-Webber, Pete Rollins, Mark Vernon and Padraig O'Tuama (who managed to make me break a promise to my late grandmother, that I wouldn't 'turn Catholic', which I remembered as I stood and recited a modified Hail Mary..); performances from Paul Kerenza, Mark Thomas, Ockham's Razor and Will Stopha; music from The Unthanks, Billy Bragg and Get Cape. Wear Cape Fly; and a bizarre screening of the film 'Back to the Future' with comments throughout from 2 comedians (heckle from small child: 'You're ruining the film!' Answer: 'That's why we're here!')

Sadly, no salsa, as it clashed with Paul Roberts' 'Bluffers guides'; sad for me, a relief to Paul, and a lucky escape for Greenbelt. Instead, I danced and whooped and waved my arms to the great Mavis Staples (above), in a departure to my usual music listening stance (arms folded, feet steady, jaw set).

 I did however appreciate the irony that after a Greenbelt where so many talks embraced the uncertainties of a life of faith, we were all ending the festival singing together that our faith was sure and our hope was certain. Faith has a quantum quality, it seems - both seem to be true, until we open the box and examine it up close.

In other news: I managed to ignore the call of the toilet - a bit; I did engage with some slightly bonkers worship, although was sad to have missed the totally teched-up event (candles on iPads, prayers via Twitter) that realised at the last possible moment that they had forgotten the bread for the Eucharist and then had to search for an image of bread on-line (seriously, what could they do then? Take turns to lick the screen?); and largely due to close observance of commandment number ten, I engaged with everything I attended without coveting the GB experiences I had missed out on. Much.

Now, that is a miracle.


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