Emeralds in a Field

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Matthew 6 v 21

I am ill. And down again, and finding it hard to see the joy in anything. Tired, but anxious, so unable to sleep. But energised by the anxiety. And still wanting things to be okay. Still hopeful. So I set off for Greenbelt to gem-hunt. Look for small treasures, things to make me smile.

It started well. Waiting for entry, there was my first gem. And the image I took was retweeted by the @Greenbelt account, and I surged with joy.


And there were other gems, too., as I looked through the programme, and then went to the events. Beautifully crafted worship in the evenings, with the Iona Community. Poetry reading from Pedraig O Touma. A talk on pain by John Bell; the explicit (incidental) affirmation from him that crying is okay in church; it is arguably what church is for. Assurance that God can take the pain we offer Him. And, the relayed testament of Rowan Williams: prayer as sunbathing. Take off your clothes, and rest in the Light.


But other things were not so easy. Camping, living in a small space, sharing facilities (at speed), walking in the mud, is physical. As music resounded over the campsite into the early hours of the morning, I did not sleep easily. Drifting off, awoken faithfully by a screaming toddler at 4am each morning. Living with thousands of others is physical. Jostling for marquee-space in overcrowded green postage stamps; making sure you’re not treading on anyone; concentrating on conversation with strangers.


Living with thousands of others is lonely. I watched people at Greenbelt. I am, at heart, a psychologist. I watched people hanging around in gangs, posses of teenagers, picnic-rugged families, couples, carers. And I was always alone, meeting those I knew by chance; not sure what we’re doing, no time, can’t stop. Until Sunday evening, when rain-sodden, exhausted, and tearful, following a communion service where pre-blessed elements were offered for collection by “your group”, I texted a church friend: we’re going to hear Kate Bottley tomorrow. And I feel better. Another gem. Friends who take time to meet me.

The treasures were there, but hidden. Buried below the noise and cliquey-ness and damp. And worth more for the finding amidst the gloom.

This entry was posted in disability, Everything else, faith, mental health, mental illness, worship and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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