As I write, our late summer break is drawing to a close. Mick and I have spent the past few days at our son’s home in South Devon. It has been a lovely opportunity to slow down, reflect and recharge our batteries before we embark on the busy times ahead of us. As always, the process of slowing down takes us time. We both find it difficult to instantly switch off from our busy, full on lives; it takes us a few days to relax and reset ourselves into holiday mode. I’m sure we are not alone in this, or in the fact that we just about manage it when it’s time to return home!
As always it has been lovely to spend time with our son, although I have to say that he has been working full time. In fact he has been working ridiculous hours: the hospitality sector is in total chaos.
That aside, the time away has provided me with time to do some writing, anticipating the busy and exciting opportunities coming my way in the months ahead. Now they are finished for the year, I’ve also used the time to reflect upon my role as Chaplain to the Music Festivals at Whitebottom Farm; partly in readiness for an exciting press interview upon my return home.
I think it always does us good to pause and ask ourselves why we do what we do, and the questions posed by the journalist, in readiness for my interview, provided a great basis upon which to reflect theologically.
An amazing 35,000 people attended the festivals in my parish over the summer, providing endless opportunities to talk to people of all ages and backgrounds about their faith.
Hundreds attended the Sunday service at Buckle and Boots Country Music Festival in July, and this also offered a great opportunity to reach out, to share experiences and to reflect upon where God fits in, and where He is at work in a broken world. That question of ‘Where is God in all of this?’ was posed time and again.
For me, it is important that people have the opportunity to share both their sorrow and their joy, to be free to laugh together and to cry together, and the festivals have certainly provided the space to do this, especially this year.
So many recounted their individual traumas linked to the pandemic, the loss of loved ones, the loss of livelihood, the loss of self and purpose. The festivals provided an opportunity for people to express their pain and simply to realise that they are not alone, they have not been alone.
All in all, it has been a huge privilege to have been able to share with so many people this summer.