‘Come, all you vagabonds, come all you ‘don’t belongs’
Winners and losers, come, people like me.’ (Stuart Townend)
We came – not too many vagabonds, though after 3 days under canvas some of us looked the part – to a field near Kettering, for a packed Bank Holiday weekend of arts, music, play and praise. From Plato to playdough, from Angels* to Zumba, there was something for everyone and more besides. The chilly nights and wet days served only as an incentive to go to more events – without which I might not have seen a stunning one-woman show about Joan of Arc nor the Greenbelt Originals acoustic singers.
We sang the ‘Vagabond’ song at worship led by L’Arche Community, which includes people with learning disabilities. Using the story of the King’s wedding feast, people who have surely known what exclusion feels like brought truth and insight to the ideas of invitation, rejection and inclusion. It was very funny, especially when we tried to sing, hold word sheets, wave scarves and copy the Makaton signing all at the same time, and deeply moving.
My other highlights included: Kate Raworth, a rebel economist and inspiring speaker who, in the absence of a projector to show her usual slides, demonstrated the graphs using a length of hosepipe; Paula Gooder who has written the whole life-story of the deacon Phoebe from a one-verse mention in Romans 16; and a panel of four disabled people, including two vicars, sharing their own experience of welcome (or otherwise) in churches. And where else could you see Pussy Riot, go Wild Spirit drumming, and share communion in the pouring rain?
I came back with a runny nose, a bag full of books and a determination to go again next year if at all possible. If anyone would like to come along, or to hear more, do let me know.
*Angels are the people who give financial backing to the festival