Monday, 31 August 2009
The greenbelt 2009 experience
The greenbelt 2009 experience
We went to greenbelt 2009 on Saturday 29th to try it out and see if it's something Rachel and I could do next year for the whole weekend. I won't keep you all in suspense, we had a fantastic time and will definitely be going again next year. This is what we did.
We left Reading at 730 and were parked by 9am. We met up with another family from church and made our way inside the Cheltenham racecourse grounds. We spent the first 15mins or so pretty disorientated, we couldn't even find anyone who knew where we could buy a map! But within 30mins we had a map, had met up with everyone else who was there from church and were in a queue for a talk at the centaur. Now I have to say, queuing is a major downside of greenbelt, I wasn't expecting it and I didn't enjoy it (especially with a 4yr old!). Eventually though we got into "Shame and how to survive it" which was well worth the wait.
From this I decided it would be great to spend some time in the quiet reflective space called "soul space" (grandstand level5). I was extremely impressed with this, there were books, pictures, stations and lots of places to pray. Rachel really enjoyed it as well, she made a few stars and drew sone wonderful rainbow pictures. As an added bonus I caught half of a talk on spiritual direction which gave me much food for thought and makes me more determined to take a retreat soon.
As we exited the grandstand we found "messy space" - an area set aside for anyone to worship thru play and craft and mess. I was disappointed that all the messy church was on Sunday but this more than made up for it.
From there we had lunch - I never expected to get a wonderful fresh tuna baguette - yum. And then we wondered round the shops, stands, tents and displays including Greenhaus (fab) before meeting everyone else in our group to plan our afternoon.
This brings me to the 2nd downside of greenbelt; there is too much to do - and yes I know this is a dichotomy. it can be a real challenge to decide what to see at any particular time, which one is going to be best? In the end I decided to just put my afternoon in god's hands and see what I'd see.
So first off we went to hear "Debunking Dawkins: How we can engage the New Atheism". I haven't mentioned the fact that Mike had come with us, Mike the staunch atheist, my unconvertable husband; he wanted to check it would be ok for R&I next year! Well he enjoyed the talk as much as I did, I'm not saying it moved his mindset at all but it got him thinking and that's a big deal! As for me, I giggled, I enjoyed and I took a lot away that I will mull on in the future.
From there we hunted for ice creams - R had seen lots of people with one and deserved one after quietly sitting thru an hour talk. We found her desired form of ice cream by the big top; whilst she ate we wondered around and heard some interesting music - "the fancy toys". So into the performance cafe we went and listened to their set, R fell asleep on me but that's no comment on the band or their set!
They finished just in time to get to Bethlehem for "Time Heals & Other Cliches"; a panel talk on grief. This was something I had planned to see and most of us from church went along. It was truly fantastic; moving, emotional, sad, funny, true, hopeful. I have experienced grief (I've survived 4 miscarriages) and studied bereavement and held others' hands as they walk the same path; but never before have I heard such an open discussion on the process of grief and what we can do to help others as they walk the path.
And so it was dinner time; R had pasta bolognese (recommended to me thru Twitter) and we had hog roast. Everyone from church got together, huddled behind a tent (as a wind break) to eat, chat, share experiences and express thoughts. The kids played with bubbles and a beach ball - what else can 5 kids from 4 to 13 need? (the teens were staying well clear ;))
And so our day came to a close, with a 90min drive home we decided that we didn't need to stay all night. We heard a band on the mainstage as we meandered out and we headed for the car.
I can honestly say greenbelt was nothing I was expecting. It was smaller than I thought but with more to do; it was even safer and friendlier than I'd hoped and it had a vast range of activities for us all to enjoy. We will come again and in the meantime I'll be downloading the talks I missed!