When I was 15, I was taken to a Christian Festival by a lovely family, who wanted to share this wonderful event with me. It was colourful, vibrant and I fell in love instantly. I can honestly say that my life has never been the same since. This August bank holiday weekend was my 10th Greenbelt, and for me, it was as mesmerising as the first.
I have grown so much physically, in myself, in my faith and in my heart since 2008, and Greenbelt has had a huge part to play in that. I have made new friends, discovered new ways to worship and pray (I actually learned to pray at all, if I’m honest!), and I have learned so much about social justice and what it looks like to be truly inclusive.
Over the years, I have also had the pleasure of introducing other people to Greenbelt. From my own family, to people curious about faith from school, to family friends happy to try something new, I always love bringing new people to Greenbelt. And I have never been so delighted to issue invitations to Greenbelt as I was this year. This year, I had my Hen Party at Greenbelt!
As a curate, weekends off are hard to come by, so combining my Hen Do with Greenbelt was not only an immense joy, but also really practical!
We pushed the boat out and decided to ‘glamp’ instead of camp. Our bell tent came complete with bunting, fairy lights, mattresses, blankets, cushions and a share of a beauty parlour tent and a kitchen! There were other hens on site, but of the 5 of us glamping, I’ve been going to Greenbelt for 9 years, my sister has attended 5, my friend from Uni, Jess, came to her second and school friend Jenny and family friend, Jade, were first time Greenbelters. Our close friends and Goddaughter also came along for the first time to join in the fun!
As my husband-to-be is also ordained, Greenbelt was where he wanted to have his Stag Do too. When we met at my interview for theological college, Greenbelt is what we talked about most! As me and my hens excitedly explored the site, occasionally chanting ‘hen, hen, hen, hen!’ the stags bantered with us as our paths crossed. Rather than the Mamma Mia style Hen Do where all men are banned, we inevitably ended up in one big group in the Jesus Arms on Saturday night. The boys were in disposable ponchos, we had pink headbands, sashes and straws, all with ‘hen Party’ written on them.
We had such a good time. Greenbelt is a chilled, fun, colourful and safe place where phones can be lost, jumpers left behind, and cider drunk, without the usual worries of the outside world. We could wear our sashes and boppers, have fun, chill out and be fed (both physically and spiritually!), all at once. The weather was without a doubt the best I have ever known it at Greenbelt. If I’d have known how sunny it would be, I might have suggested having the wedding there! But I know Greenbelt, and thunder, lightning and broken wellies were not beyond the realms of possibility! As it happened though, the chilled music, good beer, and a big dose of vitamin D meant that the weekend was better than I could ever have imagined.
This Greenbelt, new friends were made, foods eaten and things tried. It was so special to share the Communion service as a big group on Sunday morning (oh yes, we did manage to get up in time!) and I know that we all took so much from that service.
As we travelled down in Jade’s car, windows open, Disney and Busted pumping, I could feel the festival joy rise in me, and the everyday pressures drain away. The first thing new Greenbelters seem to notice is that vibe which just soothes weary souls, and this year was as good as ever.
So thanks for having me for the 10th time, Greenbelt. Thank you for being my favourite place, and thank you for welcoming me and my hens. Thank you for being you, and thank you for helping me be me.
All my love,