The day I – supposedly – did nothing

Just like last year, I managed to get through the whole of this year’s Greenbelt without attending a single talk. Unlike last year, I did actually intend to – they were diligently favourited in the (rather good) iPhone app – I just didn’t quite manage to get them. I did many other things on the programme though, several of which I’ll review over the next few posts…

And the mud – I haven’t mentioned the mud…
However, rather spectacularly, on Sunday I failed to attend a single programmed item. Seriously, not a single thing. No communion service, no mainstage gig, nothing in the Big Top, no dance class – nothing. Instead, my diary was full of social engagements including a 6 year old’s birthday party, tea with a group of fabulous women, more tea with a favourite friend & their baby, and a gathering of Twitterers. 
By the end of the day (which included a few more spontaneous meet-ups too) I was feeling a little as though I’d wasted a day of a festival, however, it then struck me that:
(i) As previously mentioned, it’s the people that make Greenbelt for me.
(ii) I’d ticked off many a Greenbelt essential during the day. 
(iii) My conversations are often as stimulating (or more so) as an average seminar. 
Before you judge me on that last point, I’m not singing my praises, I’m just making the point that I like discussion about things that interest me and often it can go pretty deep. So if you take the social events and tea drinking it actually looks more like this:
Birthday party – Inadvertent participation in the making of a Greenbelt film. [Genuinely true story. We had to rehearse the singing of Happy Birthday multiple times…] In addition to this, there was important discussion about the future of the Methodist Church (old habits die hard). 
Massive amount of maternal dedication here.
Daughter requested a castle birthday cake – mother delivered, despite camping.
Fabulous women – An opportunity to meet like-minded people who are friends of friends (or friends already), which made it an excellent networking opportunity. Significant discussion about relative merits of the various summer Christian festivals and the development of new website Threads [more about that anon]. Amusingly, it unfortunately also included us walking out of a panel session on women in the church – it’s not that we didn’t want to be there, it’s just we hadn’t realised it was about to happen in the cafe we’d just sat down in. 
Lovely friend & lovely baby – Only visit to the Tiny Tea Tent all festival and that’s always a Greenbelt essential. After putting the world to rights, we managed a second essential – churros. Bliss. 
Spontaneous meet-up #1 – Want time alone at Greenbelt? Tell your friends you’re off to charge your phone somewhere. Want to be insanely bored at Greenbelt? Go off to charge your phone and spend an hour tethered to a wall. It’s a no-win situation. Thus I was delighted when Sara came to find me and we managed a brief catch up and a discussion of Twitter vicar-bots and the joys of social media – something that could have featured in Vicky Beeching’s talk on the subject, which the earlier birthday party had clashed with. 
The lovely baby also joined me spontaneously while I was phone charging.
Beer Tent Tweet-Up – So I was meant to join in a tweet-up, but I failed to find them, partly because I was waylaid by a fellow trainee vicar and partly because I couldn’t see them when I had a brief look. Instead, a group of us chatted for quite some time about the following: missional communities; theological education; the idiocy of Michael Gove and Free Schools; and, most Greenbelt-y of all, how to prepare a group of ordinands for a trip to Israel-Palestine. 
Sunset at the Jesus Arms – a definite Greenbelt essential
Spontaneous meet-up #2 – Greenbelt wouldn’t be Greenbelt without its contributors, therefore managing a cuppa in the contributors’ lounge has to be a Greenbelt experience that can’t be refused. It was great to finally meet a Twitter friend in the flesh and make a new connection with a female vicar from my neck of the woods. 
All in all it was a great day. Sure, my sister managed to go to more talks that day than in the last 5 years combined, but at least one of them was about naked men in the Bible… Oh, and I although I went to no talks at the festival itself, I did listen to one (Ian Morgan Cron’s Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me) on the way home and it was jolly good. Thus my new tactic is to download all the talks I wish I’d heard so I can listen to them during my many hours of London walking – brilliant multi-tasking…

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