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It's always a shock returning to the ‘real' world after spending the weekend at the Greenbelt Christian Festival, held over the August Bank Holiday! You may not believe me when I tell you that the people who go are all so lovely, they all, without exception it seems, are trying to live by their faith ... People are kind, generous in queues, polite, compassionate ...

So when you hit the first motorway services on the way home, it can truly be a shock ...

As usual for 2018, the activities ranged from the listening to the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy,  recite some of her work including a poem about Mrs. Faust from her book the ‘World's Wife'; to a Quaker tent with reflective and interesting talks; to questions and answers with Pussy Riot (a collective of mostly very young women from Russia who dare to oppose  Putin and are frequently imprisoned for it); to Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg presenting treats from his book ‘ Things my dog has taught me about being a better human'. Trundling from tent to tent  I was inspired, enlightened, entertained and educated. I can't believe that I never really understood the purpose and symbolism of the ‘Red Tent'!

Greenbelt is, for me,  and for so many others,  a chance to celebrate life and humans in all our various and diverse ways and it's chance to reflect on the purpose of our lives and our part in bringing heaven to earth.

For me, hearing Carol Ann Duffy  reminds me of Durlston Country Park near Swanage and the stone inscribed there with her words:

'What will you do now with the gift of your left life?

Frequently at a Service of Thanksgiving a prayer is used to encourage us to consider how we might use the time we have wisely and rightly.

So as we approach Harvest time it seems right that we should each consider what goods we can produce, certainly our Harvest Appeal for the Foodbank and their most wanted items of UHT milk, juice, tinned food, soup, pasta sauce and treats will be gratefully received; safely gathered in and distributed to local people in need.

For Harvest this year can we also be mindful of the fruits of the spirit possible in all our lives as written by Paul to the Galatians (chapter 5) i.e. love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  

Here's to a blessed Autumn full of mellow fruitfulness.


Ruth Crosland
Licensed Lay Minister