On Friday I travelled from Salisbury Plain to Cambridge to Broughton House near Kettering, all in the comfort of the driver’s seat of my car. My return to Greenbelt after my first visit last year was a happy event. Some places feel like home, others don’t. The Bright Field felt like home, and my major criticisms of last year had all been addressed this year…a smooth entrance with short queues in the car, a well stewarded and shorter route to the tent (yes, I let Tangerine Fields do the tent erecting), a fuss-free entrance into the site. I left Cambridge with my esteemible and brave tent buddy at 2pm, and by 4pm we were sipping a brew and still catching up on each other’s news. By 6ish we were in Jesus Arms!
Last year, Greenbelt was a challenge to me, my first ever gathering of large numbers of Christians, my first camping since 19-er-hum, a strange place of meeting, greeting and new things. This year it was a less strange place of meeting, greeting and new things, even though much was different. I took a different approach to talks, got to far more this year, was braver about striking out. I was also more relaxed in my approach – I decided that I was going to sketch my view at each talk before taking any notes. The act of using oil pastels alters my frame of mind, and slows me down. I become more attentive to detail, even if I don’t record it in my drawing (usually because I am not a good artist, you will observe the lack of illustration!). But that deliberate decision to slow down was echoed so much in talks I heard that I think the decision was good. This Greenbelt contained time for longer, blessed, much needed (by me) conversations. Old connections were picked up, tenuous connections became deeper and new ties were forged. There wasn’t enough time for everyone, and for that I am sorry.
According to WordPress it is 105 days since I last blogged, and it may well be the same or more until I do again, but I wanted to share these thoughts, and so ask your indulgence.
In those 105 days, The Rector has perhaps become even more Rector-shaped as she passes the 18 months in the job milestone. That which was complex has simplified, and so inevitably other complexities have manifested themselves. I have travelled far in those 105 days, often without leaving the parish at all. Over this weekend I have travelled some 450 miles, but have laughed, cried, learned, shared and prayed with friends, most of whom I seldom see except through a screen. But I came home in time for #notGB15, which I have shared with those whose faces I see irregularly, and those whom I have never seen, but in whose joys and sorrows I share.
This post is a meandering reminder of the need for community and the need for respite, the need to care of ourselves, and the need to care for others. I shall wander off again, contemplating the essential interconnectedness of all things, and maybe I shall reappear in due course. In the meantime, I shall look at my dreadful but colourful sketches, re-read my notes, and travel on, either in the comfort of my chair, or in more physical ways. May Christ’s peace be with us all.