Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Letting Go....

Two posts in one day. Unusual, not unheard of.

When I left Christian Aid I believed I could continue as the volunteer and supporter I used to be back in the day - before I joined the staff and enjoyed the rollercoaster ride that was being part of the directorate, the platform2 programme and the churches team.

I looked forward to volunteering with Christian Aid as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues, it never for one moment crossed my mind that this would not be a *good thing* to do.

On arrival at Greenbelt I fairly soon realised this was not to be the case. Ever felt like you're on the outside looking in? Not one of the *cool* kids? Watching a team/club you don't belong to in action and wishing you were a part of it....?

I tried - oh so hard - to let go. Of all the anger and upset and bitterness and rejection. Our compline service actually included a bit about that and I clenched my fists, tried hard to "let go" and hoped against hope it might have worked.

Clearly not as the very next day felt like I had picked it all up again - indeed I went so far as to tell the person who had led the service just what a failure I was.

His reply was simple yet significant. Sometimes we need to let go of one thing before we can let go of another...

I can't - or couldn't - let go of the anger, upset, yada yada yada, without first letting go of Christian Aid. That doesn't mean I can't support the organisation. It's a great agency doing fantastic work and deserves the support of us all.

But I am not on the staff and need to accept that, and move on. Perhaps having done that I will be in a better position to find another post - be it writing, baking, creating or stacking shelves....

Years ago I remember hearing how if you are hurt and wounded you need to let it scab over and heal. Don't scratch or pick at the scab - it will bleed again and delay the healing. One day when it is all healed you can perhaps go back to it and it won't hurt.

The advice often given when a relationship ends is to make a clean break. "We can never be friends - we've been lovers too long" and all that.....

Time to let go then and look to the future - which may well be bright and orange but perhaps not of the Christian Aid hue....

Saving Paradise

Greenbelt 2012. Saving Paradise. 

I'd looked forward to - longed for even - the Festival all year. Ever since I left Christian Aid having been on the working group planning for what was always going to be a fantastic presence in Cheltenham.

We arrived full of excitement and anticipation, in particular I saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and ex-colleagues, still feeling myself to be part of the movement for change and the amazing organisation that is Christian Aid.

More of my personal angst elsewhere - this one is all about the mud...

An apocalyptic downpour on Saturday afternoon, on top of an already saturated racecourse, led to flooding and a soggy boggy quagmire such as I have never before witnessed. Six inches of swampy water around and inside the entrance to the venue reduced footfall dramatically and as the picture shows the situation was much the same for many of the centre course traders and venues.

The grandstand side of the Festival was able to carry on regardless with a certain sense of cheery calmness of the type currently popularised on greetings cards in the style of wartime posters. Meanwhile punters were stopping at the end of the walkway to the centre of the racecourse and turning back - even The Jesus' Arms with its fine wines and ales could not tempt them to walk on the water.

Is it okay to admit the situation was ghastly? That in spite of looking forward to the Festival for months I was miserable, disappointed and ready to go home...?

Surrounded by jollity, positivity and punters making the best of it, not allowing the weather to spoil their enjoyment of Greenbelt, I felt at times like a moaning miserable whingebag. Perhaps I was.

But reflecting this morning, in the comfort of a hotel after a decent breakfast, hot shower and great night's sleep I felt emboldened enough to scribble a few notes.

I believe it is okay to admit the situation was horrid.

Without in any way minimising the suffering of others throughout the world it's okay to say that suffering is a part of life and small scale suffering of the kind we experienced this weekend is a reminder of this.

Is it possible that by denying the reality of our own small taste of suffering we are denying ourselves the opportunity to share in the experience of others who suffer more deeply?

Where do we draw the line?

I've read about flooding in Bangladesh for many years now. I've seen photos of people up to their necks in dirty floodwater and have on an intellectual level acknowledged their suffering.

But after wading through mud this weekend I finally - get it. As far as it is possible to from the warm dry sofa on which I am now sitting. I could escape, they cannot, and I have some small understanding of what it is they are going through.

If I deny how horrid the cold, slimy mud was. If I minimise the inconvenience, the soul destroying damp and damage it caused; if I keep calm and carry on with a smile and a cupcake - is it possible that I in some way minimise what my brothers and sisters in Bangladesh are suffering?

It's late, I am tired, and articulating this is not easy but it has to be done - if corrected tomorrow.

I will go to bed thankful for a comfortable mattress, hot water, good food and the life that I have - with a prayer for those who struggle with so much worse than we experienced this weekend.