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It is still summer 2: Coming Home 28 August 2014

Posted by Dr Moose in Faith, Life, Ponderings.
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Readers with a good memory my recall that in my previous post I declared that “autumn does not begin until Greenbelt has ended.” This is indeed true. And Greenbelt has ended, but for correspondence and continuity the title remains true!

It is Thursday as I write this (without the aid of the GB daily diary). Greenbelt wound up late on Bank Holiday Monday, or early on Tuesday, depending on how you define ending. Distant enough for some memories to be fading perhaps, but close enough to retain the most. How much I will be able to write is another matter, of course.

There is so much to mention, and yet much that is hard to put into words. Without wishing to sound over-sentimental, Greenbelt is not just a festival in the ‘camp in a field and be entertained’ sense. It is something far bigger for me, and for many others. It is a festival in the same sense as the way the Church has festivals that mark special events, like Christmas and Easter – a unique and special event. It has shaped my life and my attitudes. According to the calendar I am 46, even if I’ve felt 30 for at least 20 years. This year was my 25th Greenbelt, and 30 years since I first visited. I missed 3 years while at Poly, (far too pious by half!), even if I did play in a similar, but much smaller event, Trailblaze (iirc) in Guernsey for one of those years, and GB91 reminded me that Christian faith was far bigger and varied than I’d allowed it to become. Greenbelt has changed over the years, and so have I. Last year, the 40th, was notable not just for the number (and the related theme “Life Begins”) but also for the fact that it marked the last festival at Cheltenham Racecourse, a versatile, practical venue that has so much to commend it. As I put it in 2000 (yes, I have journals!)

 The old and the new together take a bit of getting used to. Portaloos and standpipes in the field, porcelain and hot water in the buildings. It’s a long way from  plywood toilet shacks and polythene sheets and plastic gutter urinals.

But get used to it I did. Get used to it we did. I suspect that I was not the only one somewhat concerned that after Life Began at 40 reverting to a greenfield site was the indication of a mid-life crisis, like the 2 seater sports car I still yearn for!

I was wrong, so wrong. I hadn’t been looking forward to Greenbelt this year but neither had I been dreading it. Simply a case of  “it’s Greenbelt, of course I’ll be there” – and I am always very hard-pressed to be able to answer quite why I go. There is no one simple answer. But next year I think I will be looking forward to it, excited once again. It’s hard to convey but at Boughton House Greenbelt has come home. There was nothing wrong with Cheltenham, but Boughton House was simply right. Others will disagree, but I stand by my Twitter declaration (@DrMoose) that it was the “best site & best fest for years”, even with my Facebook clarification of “as a solo camping able-bodied mid-forties straight white male cleric!” (Others have pointed out that I omitted “bearded” from the pocket bio).

I felt 20 years younger and I had a blast. I saw many of the usual faces (and missed some) as well as seeing others I hadn’t seen for years and hadn’t exxpected to see. I hadn’t seen my training incumbent for 11 years or so, and he was there. I hadn’t seen an ex-girlfriend for longer and she was there (and has moved, with her pastor husband, very close by). I finally achieved cross-over between  Greenbelt and my other love, Role-Playing Games, in meeting the other Christian minister who goes (and this has given me ideas…)

Time, I suspect,  for some more detailed reflections… but they will have to follow later!

It has rained, it has been sunny. There is life & joy, affirmation & challenge. This is @greenbelt, this is family, this is home




1. Yr Ieithydd (@yrieithydd) - 28 August 2014

Early on Tuesday? We finally got off site at 7pm — took until 6pm to get everything packed into the van and then we got bogged in and there was no-one around so it took time to find help.
But yes, it was a good festival. There’s a bit of Friday and a lot of Tuesday I don’t wish to repeat, but the bit in between was wonderful…

2. Clare Flourish - 28 August 2014

It was my first time, and it bowled me over. I saw a wonderful singer on the Roots open mic stage. The Mount was lovely for worship. I loved the way I could just start talking to people, and be talking deeply.

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