Further #gb11 reflections

As promised last week, here are my further reflections on Greenbelt.

Morning prayer
I surprised myself going to two Morning Prayers in Soul Space. It’s not that I don’t like the idea nor do I dislike getting up in the morning. It’s just I am much better at being grateful for having made it through 24hours than I am at looking forward to a new day. Saturday’s was led by the Fransiscans. I have forgotten the name of the chap who introduced the service, but he should be given a medal for his good humour and no-nonsense explanation. I like the idea of a competition for the holiest side of the room when repeating the psalms – this wasn’t the point, though, apparently. Normally I am quietly mortified if I get a bit of the congregational responses wrong so the extra reassurance it didn’t matter – especially after a no-sleep night – helped a lot.

In fact Soul Space helped all round this year (and not just for the quiet, dark and comfortable snuggle space (see above re no-sleep)). In 2009 I had been disappointed by the noise and lack of focus in the area. That was part of my decision not to attend in 2010 so I was relieved that once again calm and peace had been restored.

Of course, I cried, in various ways and places, with and without warning. Tears of relief. Tears of loss – that my ‘Dreams of Home’ are receding into impossibility as each month passes. Tears of anxiety. Tears of contrition. Small quiet blink-and-you’ll-miss it sobs and some undeniably undignified dirty great howls. Even so, I cried less than I thought I would. I wasn’t afraid of not being able to stop. However, I did find myself crying in unexpected places: the tiny tea tent and halfway through Billy Bragg’s conversation with Simon Mayo.

G-Source presents an opportunity to get cross about the injustices in the world and I’d decided beforehand to support a new organisation. It was interesting talking to various people from different charities. Deciding between a big charity and a smaller organisation was also the subject of debate over tiny tea tent tea. Final choice is yet to be made, but I did sign up as a Greenbelt Angel.

I watched one set – Hope and Social. This was on the recommendation of the Northerners; apparently Hope & Social are big in Leeds. I had much fun during their set and was genuinely sorry when it ended.

My notes here say:
Jonah and the Ale. Marvellous. Which pretty much says it all, really. Let’s face it, when the brewery are tweeting you, you’re either doing it terribly right or terribly wrong, depending on your point of view.

I missed Milton Jones on Friday, but I did have a good reason and the time spent on the alternative was very well spent. Adrian Plass was on later; I laughed till my sides hurt at some of his observations. Anyone who helps me laugh at the idiocies of my faith and the manner in which corporate religion is practised is All Right By Me. The one that stands out in memory is the use of the Sri Lankan cricket team’s names as a decoy for speaking in tongues.

Other things
I had tea with Susanna’s brother’s family and their church friends. This involved winning against a small child at Top Trumps as well as a chance to gain a different perspective on the festival. I think the time away from the main hurly burly did me good, too.

I had opportunities to meet up with old university friends alongside those I’ve become acquainted with online.
This also entailed beer.

Social Media Surgeries
These ran throughout the weekend and I helped with two. It was amusing to be greeted by Graham with ‘It’s you!’ as he put face to name and remembered me giving him directions to CNMAC at City last year. Sorry, then, Graham and Paul, for ruining your ice-breaker… Over the two surgeries I spoke with two folk and I hope I didn’t confuse them too much. What I learned was that the stuff I take for granted as being an everyday work tool (RSS, for example) is unknown to many others. One person was going to try out Twitter at a forthcoming conference, which IMHO is one of the best uses for it.

Other Talks

Turns out I only went to one ‘serious’ talk. And that was picked fairly randomly on Monday morning- a session explaining Ignatian spirituality and silent retreats. Delivered with good humour and a sense of fun, as well as deadly seriousness alongside, this talk explained how one would survive a silent retreat. I was also introduced to the idea of the consolations and desolations of the spirit – I like that idea.

All in all… it wasn’t the weekend I had expected and  it wasn’t the weekend I’d have planned, but it was a weekend I loved.

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