Saturday, 15 August 2009

Day - after we've come home

So we left civilisation and travelled to Scotland's west coast - the isle of Iona; then to the east coast - the isle of Lindisfarne; then to Oxford; then to London - Croydon.

Along the way we ran another 3 festivals, I shaved (in London), visited West Minster cathedral and discovered that it's 15 quid to get in, which I personally think is daylight robbery and rather unbecoming of the British, get rather wet camping on Iona, narrowly missed an enormous thunderstorm whilst setting up tents near Lindisfarne, patted some horses and ate a lot of food. We also did some pilgrimage stuff too.

Probably the best thing was visiting Iona and having an hour's silence - and the service at the abbey there. There's something about actually touching and smelling and seeing things that helps make them much more real. Otherwise it just seems like stories - nice, possibly inspiring but they don't always go very deep for me. I think that carrying our gear across the island and camping out in the rain helped me to understand the type of thing that the monks might have gone through when they were missionaries over a thousand years ago. I suspect they wouldn't have had a squashed in old minibus or tents - so all in all I suspect we did better.

1500 miles later, 3 more festivals and a few capes made out of black bags (for my 2 year old festival team) and we made it back home. Just in time for a trip to Albania....

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Day 3

My beard progresses slowly but surely.

We have run 2 festivals so far with a third tomorrow. Today it rained a fair bit during our festival in Clayton Brook which always makes things interesting - particularly when you're playing water-balloon volleyball.

Tomorrow we run a second festival in the same place as the one today before heading off to Scotland. I suspect that by the time we drive to the place we're staying it will be time to get up and drive on to the island of Iona where we begin the 'pilgrimage' part of our pilgrimage. We'll check out the church and community there and hear more about the lives of the Celtic Christians and how they brought faith, education and social reform to Ireland and Scotland.

Today saw a few hundred people come to our festival. Not bad going really - two local churches just engaged with a few hundred people from their community for around 3 hours. Probably many will engage again tomorrow for another 3 or 4 hours and some will volunteer to help make their community a better place. All of them will walk another step in their journey with God whether they realise He journeys or not.

I directed the festival today which basically means I told the MC what to say and oversaw the running of the central games program - an interactive community building series of games and activities for the 3 hours. Hard to describe easily but they basically form the heart, soul and values of the entire festival. If the whole thing does it's job well people relax, start to engage together in a healthy way and love being with one another. They start to like who they are, particularly who they are together and begin in some way to hear the still small voice God's Spirit in their own human spirit. The MC, team, activities and central games become the mirror and values of that move - from an unknowing and wary hostility to a welcoming hospitality.

Generally speaking: job well done. The local team and the two churches were great.

Quotes for the last two days:

Guy: you do know that's illegal don't you? Tim: oh really? Well I'll stop doing it once I've finished.
Tim: Can you drive my car over to Novlette whilst I drive Andy's? Guy: Not really no. I can't drive. Tim: That's ok - the keys are in the ignition.
Whilst booking a flight (a process that took no small amount of time and several attempts at getting the credit card number right over skype) somebody to somebody else: you do know that you have a lousy member don't you? [I think they meant memory].

I've now been driving twice in 24 hours - not bad since I can't drive. Once was 4 wheel off-road driving. It was closely followed by an incident at the Burger King drive through when we may have accidentally neglected to use the road whilst leaving the BK premises.

Sleep this pilgrimge seems to be optional.

Friday, 24 July 2009

The British Pilgrimage

Day 1

And so it begins......

A ten day Pilgrimage around Britain. Some good ideas behind it really - that it would help British people rediscover the best parts of our nation's heritage, be an inspiration/challenge to those that come and others they hang out with to follow God & make a difference, and a chance to take people (specifically young people) out of their natural environment to discover more of who they really are. Sometimes it's hard being at home whilst trying to figure that out - we tend to keep each other trapped in expectations, our own immovable world view and patterns of (often unhealthy) behaviour. Not a bad plan then. They say that a tourist passes through the land whilst a pilgrim lets the land pass through them.

Cliche it may be but the theory is sound. We either filter new experiences and growth through who we already are and just reinforce something that already exists, or let ourselves be impacted, affected and ultimately recreated by the journey we take. In this particular case: a journey with 11-ish others (a bizarrely biblical number quite by chance) around Britain visiting places and lives of Christian significance and takign part in local mission. And whilst the places we're visiting might not be the ones you'd necessarily expect you'll understand why cathedrals and exciting or famous places aren't on the list. We are, after all, more interested in places and people who have actually done something. Faith without action as the book of James tells us, is dead. In fact: it's worth than dead. It's a joke and a slap in the face of what God came to do for us and calls us to. Which is why we spend half of our time being involved with local mission.

You can, after all then, keep your Christian excitement and hype. People live in the day to day real world.

My real world currently feels like someone is setting off depth charges with little regard for the repurcussions. More immediately distressing is the fact that I appear to have forgotten my razor and toothbrush and at 11:14 on a Friday evening I'm very hungry. Whilst I may end up spiritually fed over the next 10 days my slightly dodgy stomach (endoscopy to follow pilgrimage) tells me that I may not be so well physically fed or relaxed. Not to mention the prospect of beginning to look like a wannabe member of a Bee Gees tribute band.

Today's best quote: "I've never had so much gaelic accordian" - narrowly followed by Andy Prosser's "proof that big isn't necessarily always better"