Before I forget: More stuff about Greenbelt

It’s Saturday 1 September and for the last 24 hours I’ve been thinking ‘this time last week I was…’ and remembering the rather marvellous weekend that was Greenbelt 2012. It’s 10pm, so I can safely say that this time last week I was in the Jesus Arms risking trench foot in a completely soaking pair of trainers, drinking Bad Christian, Jonah and the Ale and generally putting the world to rights. I’d been there since the middle of Beer & Hymns at about 6:15pm celebrating having gotten through my workshop in one piece. (More on that elsewhere).

There was an awful lot to think about, so I’m just going to add some of the highlights of the weekend. For me it seemed to be more about conversations than attending talks – I think I made it to 1.5 (not including mine). Knowing things were being recorded made the knowledge I was missing things easier to deal with. Less gutting than being tenth from the front of the queue when the venue was declared full for Tom Wright on Sunday (but then I had been having a shoulder massage not queuing up, so I only have myself to blame). I bought the iPhone App which meant I had a really good idea of exactly what it was I would be missing in advance, too.

Friday’s Any Questions was hot, but fun to be part of, despite the long queue. First trip to Jesus Arms for a mere two pints.

Saturday’s 3 mile run round campsite with @cathrynjbrown who I met for the first time that morning. Followed by Morning Prayer with the Fransiscans.

Watching the deluge at lunchtime on Saturday, avoiding the river in the G-Source tent. Lovely conversations in G-Source – one with the Christian Motorcyclists stands out as being unexpected and interesting. Great examples of how not doing Church church, but being the tea, bun and listening place is the better way to be with people.

Hiding round the corner in the room my talk was in, waiting for people to come in – I had no idea how many would be there, and who would be there for the session because they were interested and who was just avoiding the monsoon. Getting my first laugh, relaxing, and figuring it would all be OK.

Skipping muddy Communion in favour of a conversation with George, Andy and Martin – people I’ve followed on Twitter, but met briefly, a few times and not at all (not in that order). Great chat about life, the universe and everything, including the state of my feet. And then the lovely @pamjweb acquired me a pair of wellies, and life continued with dry feet.

Trying to follow Moot’s meditation in the Eden venue, with Hope & Social on mainstage in one ear, and thrash metal in the other ear. Still quite relaxing…

Tea in the tiny tea tent with lots of people at different times, talking PhDs, plans, diagrams, cabbages and kings. More beer in the Jesus Arms talking about some of the same things. And more.

Having so many conversations that involved introducing someone with their real name, then their Twitter name. Putting real people behind the folk I’ve chatted to for months. That was awesome. You know, I spent a fair bit of time on my own but for the first time in ages I didn’t feel lonely, ever. There was always someone a stone’s throw away to talk to, even if briefly.

Listening very intently to a talk, and having a Minor Lightbulb Moment.

Sprawling on the floor of Centaur listening to Last Orders.

Eating pie, and toasted sandwiches. (Not at the same time).

Being let loose in a bookstall with a credit card.

Accidentally attending a session on lectio divina. Enjoying it, but stoking internal controversy about how I can pick what is important to focus on.

Spending time in Soul Space – writing, thinking, watching the world go by on the racecourse, contemplating the hills, the weather, everything else. Returning again and again for the peace, quiet, calmness.

More tea, more beer, more pie.

90 minute life drawing class. Wonderful to spend time wielding charcoal and observing rather than reading, writing, researching which has been such a big part of life. Amazing opportunity to do Something Different.

Missing Beer & Benediction because of the rain, missing Evensong because of Hope & Social in the Performance Cafe.

Watching Hope & Social in the Performance Cafe. Loving it. Pinching myself it was really a whole year since I sat in the same place watching them for the first time. Accidentally crying, trying to delve into my rucksack for a hanky, amusing Susanna by finding a scarf, a sock and a pair of gloves before giving up & wiping eyes on a sock.

Seeing the time on Monday fly past until it was time to leave. Being given a wonderfully dry lift to the station by lovely people. Having a calm, quiet carriage practically to myself… enjoying that ‘buffer zone’ between the busyness and wonderfulness of Greenbelt and the busyness and ordinariness of real life and London. Crossing London on the tube, listening to Hope & Social, accidental tears in the Bank area.

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