Greenbelt reflections

Greenbelt reflections

Am writing this on the train to work. You know, the one I’ve caught every day for six years, the one that represents everything about routine and normality and the day job. I am trying very hard not to notice this return to work. Like many of us after holidays I am trying to hang on to the thoughts, feelings and atmosphere of what I have left behind me and not on the challenges of the day ahead. I am trying to let go lightly – because time is linear, and the hours and days only run before me in one direction.

I have so much I want to record and keep from the weekend but everytime I open the box of memories I’m hit by a cacophony of sights sounds noise feelings conversations friendship music jokes impressions introductions laughter love beer art tea quiet – and it’s never really going to be possible to untangle that lot in the space I have before real life takes over again. The best I can hope to do is pull a few thoughts out and examine them before the demands of real life intrude. It feels like such a race against time…

In my daily life I wail about how I don’t have time for sitting still and being contemplative. About how much I hate trying to still my mind and find space. (see above!)

Yet. Greenbelt lasts four days. It’s the busiest time: there is so much going on, things to do, people to talk to, people to listen to, stuff to watch, beer to be drunk. So why – in the midst of all that busyness, where it’s hard to not feel like I’m missing something good at every moment – why is a daily visit to Soul Space important? That would be the quiet, contemplative Soul Space. How is it so easy to make that choice to miss something else in such a concentrated time, when the stakes are so high? I wonder if I will ever stop finding myself such a contradictory person.

I had so many lovely conversations with people I really only know via Twitter. In fact nearly all introductions to third parties involved sharing people’s Twitter names alongside their actual name. My greatest takeaway from this year’s festival has been that sense of connectedness – some ties are stronger than others, of course, but I pretty much felt at any time there was someone around that knew me.

London is looming large out the window now, so I need to stop, look at the BlackBerry, see what the day ahead holds for me. Whatever it does throw at me, I hope to find time for further untangling and recording. Am I changed?


  1. Very interesting reflections Sara. I have been a Greenbelt regular over many years but have not been for the last four years due to other holidays, work and life just getting too busy that I just forgot about it!

    I totally agree with your comments about connectedness. That is exactly what is the both the joy and pain of Greenbelt for me. To feel connected on a massive scale is truly uplifting and provides many of those pesky “God” moments that all the best Churches/Christians have in abundance. However, that same connectedness can also be painful when the reality of life back “home” hits. There is then the realisation that Greenbelt can be only seen as an oasis amidst the battles of being a “truth carrier” in the ambiguities of daily living.

    Thanks for the reflections, really enjoyed reading them and has made me want to go back next year!!


    • It’s a bit like this. It’s possible to scoop up water in our hands, and drink from it, but our hands aren’t watertight. Sooner or later the water starts dripping out through our fingers, however hard we try to hold on. Eventually we just have wet hands, and then they dry out. So we can be refreshed by the festival, but we have to accept that the feelings pass and we can’t hang on for ever…

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