So this year at Greenbelt, I was volunteering for the first time (last year I did some bits on a stand but only really as a punter who was a bit helpful. This year I was official and fully equipped with volunteer wristband, courtesy showers, free teas, meal vouchers, arriving on Thursday, a GORGEOUS hi-vis jackets for certain times at our venue and the best of times with my team at the Performance Cafe. What more could a volunteer ask for than to be volunteering AND listen to some great live acts in a venue with scrummy food?
It did mean I didn't get to everything I might have done but I did get to Blessed's mass of the trinity (and persuade a few others to witness its special integrity and innovation) and to a youthwork practitioner's session with the beautiful Pip Wilson who was also a regular visitor to the Performance Cafe (clearly a Greenbelt Trustee of discernment!) The Sunday morning service was non-eucharistic but contained some powerful symbolism in the Hebrew/Arabic readings, the olive stones and olive oil and the stories and songs of a people divided in what is called a Holy Land. Made doubly special for me by sharing it with a new friend and a group of strangers. This new friend was part of our little village at the campsite, a friend of a friend drawn together by canvas and bacon butties! We had such a wonderful laughing time together and a little bop to the electronica of Royksopp. It was also a chance to catch up with all sorts of people including some of the young people from the diocese and some other DYOs - all this helped a little, perhaps, by my offer of muffins via facebook.
The Performance Cafe was such a lovely place to be with some great performers and a really lovely crew of volunteers (from our own team and from others drawn to us!) who really worked together well, I think, to make the venue a welcoming place where we got in all the people we could to see the performers. It was a really satisfying feeling to manage to squeeze another 20 people in who were desperate to see their favourite musicians. Highlights for me there were probably Yvonne Lyon (again- she's on itunes) and Gareth Davies-Jones (on itunes) and for a little more chilled out the smooth sounds of Jazzelation (sample here). Another bonus was Roger's (the venue manager) choice of interlude music including Jim Moray's All You Pretty Girls which is just so perky!
Curiously in all of it, a friend and I agreed that for both of us, the most spiritual experience came at the Comedy venue with Barbara Nice's Hiya and Higher. She encouraged us all not to worry about the Credit Munch, not to fall for the consumerist myth but to look to all that we, as human beings have in common. We shouldn't feel low but in meeting each other (and saying HIYA) we can feel HIGHER. The time concluded with the audience selecting a short length of wool to represent how low we felt at the start with all our worries then the audience, through its links, passed around the ball of wool and when many connections had been made, this wool was attached to some helium balloons that were released into the sky. So how low did we feel and how high do we feel now? Through building connections with those people we felt as high as heaven.
It's difficult to convey just how deep an experience this was and at the same time gloriously funny. There was not heavy over-politicised polemic but wonderful and glorious authenticity from a woman with such a big and beautiful heart!