I was unimpressed with my first contact with Greenbelt. Last year it was in Cheltenham, and as the clerk I had an email from Cheltenham Quakers enthusiastically saying how wonderful it was, and how well their meeting for worship at Greenbelt had gone. AM agreed that I could propose worship to them, after I bubbled over at AM.
That was February, and I could not propose worship then. I had to wait until March, and get a response in May. The form I completed referred to Greenbelt 2013, and the woman I emailed did not always email back. I had no idea what the venue would be like- would there be any buildings, or would it all be under canvas? Would there be any chairs? They asked about health and safety issues- don’t think so, but I am not an expert.
A month before, I had a new contact at Greenbelt, and we found our worship was not mentioned on their programme on the website. Initially we were promised ten tickets for the full weekend, but at the last minute told that as we were only contributing on one day, we could only have tickets for that day. I complained, and was told we could have tickets for the whole festival. But we were frightened of them, and this showed in our fear we would not get in- we had no ticket to show. We ended up with five weekend tickets and seven day tickets- we have more than ten? No problem.
Peter drove me there, and we queued for ages in the car. We diverted to the box office, and when I said I was a contributor they were welcoming. I got my tent up. I wanted to take Peter to the Contributors’ hospitality tent but Security stopped me. So we went to a caff selling tea and bacon rolls, and sat under canvas beside a tots’ climbing frame. Two people joined us, and we started chatting about Christianity and Creationism. Peter left, and with my braw silver Contributor’s wristband I went into the Festival.
I walk on a plastic path through a wood. Less than five minutes’ walk from my tent, I enter the Festival ground, with the main stage and some food stalls on my right. The Mount, where we worship, is over to the left, but I have to go round a square lake. On my way I find inflatable sofas, with a large sign saying “We’re here to listen”- I chat to two Spiritual Directors, cuddly middle-aged women. They hope to hear joys at least as much as sorrows: they are not counsellors. You say what is going on in your life, and they ask “Where is God in that?”
Across a bouncy pontoon bridge then up a steep ramp to The Mount, which is square, a wee bit away from the rest of the Festival. A man had a T shirt inscribed “Hug me” so I asked and had a hug. There is a canopy, providing a roof but no walls, and outside it is perhaps fifty yards square and flat. It is a new feature, put up only four years ago. I was thinking this could be beautifully atmospheric for worship, when a loud BRAAANGGG of an electric guitar sounded from the Main Stage.
I am open, receptive, excited.