Exiles, east of Eden…

My mate Graham posted this today- a lovely Martin Joseph song that I had not heard before;

The song plugs in to quite a few new and old thoughts/conversations. Time for an old poem I think, written for a Greenbelt worship event;

There is this story from the beginning of us
Of brothers who started to measure their relative success
It began with small things -
the domestic injustices, the long silences

One brother loved the wild places
The freedom of the forest – to hunt the deer and gather the low fruit
He could bear no borders

The other was a man of industry
He fenced the land
and turned the earth to fields
And the land was bountiful
His store houses were overflowing
In this he was vulnerable

Somehow these things became a wall between them -
Leading to violence
And death.

.

You are placed under a curse and can no longer farm the soil. It has soaked up your brother’s blood as if it had opened its mouth to receive it when you killed him. If you try to grow crops, the soil will not produce anything; you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.

And Cain said to the Lord, This punishment is too hard for me to bear. You are driving me off the land and away from your presence. I will be a homeless wanderer on the earth, and anyone who finds me will kill me.

But the Lord answered,
No. If anyone kills you, seven lives will be taken in revenge. So the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who met him not to kill him. And Cain went away from the Lord’s presence and lived in a land called -

Wandering…
…which is east of Eden

.
We think we were the first to ever feel

The first to dream of higher places
The first to fall
The first to scream at sharp things
The first to feel that indescribable sting
called love

The first to make music
The first to feel shame shrinking
our callow souls
The first to seek the promised land
The first to eat from the tree
Called puberty

We were not

Long before light could be conjured
by a switch
Men and women sat around fires and
dreamed of starflight
They rose high above the flat old earth
Pregnant with new possibilities
Favour rested on their fields

But every generation grows and leaves home
We make and break and forge our own magnificence
And these palaces we build need solid doors
To protect what is mine
From what you will never have
And we wander – marked like Cain
East of Eden

Sometimes it seems that you and me
Have spent forever
Looking for a way
Back

Greenbelt 11 reflections…

Home we are, shower fresh and full of stories. I had such a great time that I am reluctant to let it go and so refused to shave this morning for work. I am going beardy for a while as a wee celebration of all things festival.

Our worship thing went well- and as we were first up, we suddenly had time to relax- a rare luxury! This meant actually going to talks and sitting down listening to music. Fancy that.

Highlights-

Perhaps most of all, time with family and friends- I laughed so much at times that I ached. Several of the kids of my long time friends were there too- Sam, Caleb, Sarah, Nathan, Gail and Andrew- it was such a privilege to spend time with such great young people (not to mention my own kids!)  It was great also to meet up again with a growing network of creative folk from around the UK, many of whom are involved with ‘Tautoko’.

The meet up in Gloucester Cathedral was great- we managed to get down in time this year.

As for music- The Unthanks and Martin Joseph on mainstage were both really great. Billy Bragg was at his polemical best.

Gungor redefined worship music with intelligence and musicality.

In terms of speakers, I began slightly skeptical of the celebrity headliners- but Brian McLaren inspired me, and made me cry. He also sat down and spent half an hour speaking to one of our young people, Sarah. If you were to download just one talk from GB this year- go for this one. I also enjoyed hearing a couple of my longer term heros speak- Christian social worker/activist Bob Holman and Psychologist Oliver James.

This year I even saw some comedy- not usually something I bother with- Jo Enright was hilarious, and Mark Thomas (swearing like a Gatling gun) managed a two hour romp about his walk around the Palestinian wall.

Michaela has always rather tolerated Greenbelt through gritted teeth- it has always been much more my thing. She goes because it is important to me, and has other practical benefits. However, this year seems to have been a real change for her- she too had a great time. Michaela is happy when she has made connections, and this year she had some quality time with lots of friends too- including Yvonne Lyon (copies of whose new album sold out almost immediately on the strength of another lovely tender performance, despite a bad cold.)

Finally, one other performer deserves a mention- Sam Hill. Sam used to go to the same church as us near Preston, and despite all the music I have seen performed, I reckon that one of his gigs was the best I ever saw live. He is a hugely talented songwriter and performer. Our mate Andy played backing guitar for him at his last GB performance 9 years ago, since when he has hardly performed. Now he is back!

There was probably so much more that I have not immediately remembered, but that is festivals for you…

I took very few photos this year- I was relying on Andy ‘5 cameras’ Prosser. Here are a few however, mostly from Michaela’s camera.