Thursday, August 23, 2007

Off to a thin place...

So in a couple of hours I get on a plane to join other great humans pulling together what I think is the mother of all festivals – Cheltenham Race Course every August Bank Holiday, for many, becomes the thinnest of places, and, (he says, with a hope resembling something the size of a mustard seed), this year will be no different.

There will be some 20,000 people drinking deep, many broken, some fixed (ish), quite a few lost, some found (ish), all searching, most wanting to cut loose and sing, and maybe just a few needing a secret and a quiet place, a place where their pilgrim dream can come alive. Whoever and however and for whatever reason we all gather doesn’t matter; what does matter is that we do make the journey, that we stand, sit, lay on the grass (or mud if the weather is crap) to learn, worship, drink, feast, but most of all, to laugh and cry…together.

Last year my great friend Pip and I compared the opening ceremony on main stage. The following was read by a beautiful young man who had been rescued from the children street gangs of Durban, South Africa. The wonderful Martin Wroe is the author...who else....

We are not on our own this weekend
We are together
We are not singing solo
We are a massed choir
We are not singing songs for ourselves
We are singing songs for each other
Songs of freedom
Because none of us is free
Until all of us are free
Songs of hope
About a movement of Jah people
Away from a land of war and greed
Away from a world policed by soldiers
From the heart of America
We are going to Exodus land
Where the song of redemption
Is not just for ourselves
But for our sisters and brothers in every country

Redemption songs
From South Africa to the Lebanon
From the Middle East to middle England
From the West Wing to the West Bank
From the House of Commons to the House of Big Brother
Songs of freedom, anthems of liberation
At Greenbelt 06
The sweet melody of emancipation
To hear how the hand of the Almighty
Can free this world from mental slavery
From physical slavery,
From emotional, political and economic slavery
From the slavery of the self
Into the freedom of Love
The freedom of Truth
Who will set us free
Give us your help good Lord
To sing these songs of freedom
We want to be
One Love, One Heart
We want to
Get together and feel alright
Cus way down inside us
And way out beyond us
All we ever knew was redemption songs
Songs of freedom
Redemption songs
Redemption to what we were made for
Dreamed for
Loved into being for
Redemption from slavery and drudgery
From envy and vanity
Redemption from materialism and consumerism
From sectarianism, pessimism and
Loony fundamentalism
Redemption Songs
Where all of us are free
Where we can
Get up, Stand up,
Stand up for the rights
Of the people that Jesus Christ remembers
Even if everyone else forgets them
A song of
Redemption in the poor world
From slavery to the rich world
A song of redemption in the rich world
From slavery to false dreams
We want to hear how the hand of the Almighty
Can free this world from mental slavery
We want to
Get up, Stand up
And not give up the fight
A song about a world where
No woman, no man, no child
Does no crying no more
A song of redemption
where all people choose to
Do justice
Love mercy
Walk humbly and
Live generously
On the good earth
You have
Loaned us
A song of freedom from addiction
To substances which are choking our planet to death
A song of redemption where
Every little thing’s gonna be alright
A song saying thanks and praise to the Lord
And we will feel alright
Saying let’s get together and feel alright
Cus our hands will be made strong by the hand of the Almighty
All we ever had
Redemption Songs
Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom
All we ever had
Redemption songs
One love, one heart
Let’s get together and feel alright
Give thanks and praise to the lord
And it will be alright
Give thanks and praise to the lord
Cus all we ever had was songs of freedoms
Redemption songs...

Time for our bones to be shaken...again

Here's a glimpse of this wonderful festival......more here when I return in a week


Rainbow dreams said...

Hope you hsve a wonderful time, enjoy and drink deeply...

Kathryn said...

Yes, thank God. And the sun is shining.
Hope to see you there (maggi is staying with me - so perhaps she might connect us)

Anna said...

I wish I was there. It is going to be amazing! And these shots are wonderful Paul! :) I will be thinking of you....HAVE FUN!

Awareness said... picturing you there surrounded by a sea of many. Look forward to reading some of your stories when you return, Paul. However, I don't wish for the time to quickly slip by for you as it will anyways....
we look forward to something so much and then like a snap of the fingers it's over....left with catching our breath.
take care......

Julie said...

Hey Paul!

Am here looking out for you. Ched Myers blew me away today!

Mushy peas???


Suzanna said...

I'm encouraged there is such a place on the earth...

Kyle said...

It's been a while my friend (i've been so busy getting ready for college).

Thank you for your comments, and your pictures are as inspiring as they always have been!


Tori said...

Have a wonderful time. I can't wait to hear all about it.

Society's Elite said...

hope you have/had a great time... peace bro...

Mog said...

it was a piece of heaven. I can still taste bits of it. Shame not to chat to you over a good GB meal, but ah well. Come visit Belfast sometime good Paul. Pád.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

thanks everyone for your kind comments - am back and trying to process a million and one beautiful memories

it was the busiest and yet the most moving of festivals - i will post very soon with pics and reflections.....promise

alex said...

I would also thank the heirs of the late lamented Colonel William J.. Bay will perhaps be the sound; one scholar spells it bey, another, bay, while the master all the time means ba, which comes within the rule, being in the spelling-book...

Mr. Althouse said...

It looks absolutely fascinating! Hope you had a good time.


The Harbour of Ourselves said...

hi mike, good to hear from you - am sat trying to pour out my reflections, but as yet unable to frame them in a coherent way......more coffee me thinks, if that doesn't work I'll try again later with wine....

Awareness said...

good morning often does something live up to our expectations let alone go beyond them? I look forward to reading your thoughts.....hurry up and drink the coffee will you?

Awareness said...

I know.......just skip the java and start sipping on the grapes..

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

dana.....getting there, honestly....brain is fried!

ps,, yes, the mushy peas was an inspired moment.....i think