You haven’t heard from me for a couple weeks because I was volunteering and sharing work, life, art, and philosophy at Hay-on-Wye in the Welsh Marches. This is a place I have been going each May (with a COVID break, of course) for the last eight years.
The first week, I was volunteering as a Steward at the Hay Literary Festival. This is a place authors and thinkers come to share their stories and present their provocative ideas. The team I work with at the Hay Festival feels like a family, and I am grateful for the leadership of our BBC and Sky Arts tent crew, which comes in gentle encouragement from Paul, and Steve. Along with Gerald, I have somehow become a sign artist for the group. Black wooden boards stand at the entrance to events, and the stewards hand draw titles of events and names of participants. A few of the festival teams go a step further and turn the board into a work of art. I am certainly no artist, but I am decent with fonts, and a bit of doodling. Somehow my doodles caught the eye of comedian and Sky Arts presenter Frank Skinner. My event board and I ended up on stage at the end of the third day of Sky Arts Big Hay Weekend. Frank gave me the nickname Phil the Board, and apparently the interview will end up on the show on the weekend of June 18-19.
After a week at the Hay Festival, I walked across town with my hammock tent (yes, a tent that swings between two trees!), and just barely over the border in England, How The Lights Gets In, a philosophy festival happens. This was my first experience of volunteering as a Steward at Hay-on-Wye, and this festival is a different kind of family. It’s a little wilder in the evening, with dance parties, DJs, and significantly more drinking. It’s also a place where discussions regularly pop up about spirituality, theology, life philosophy, and assorted God and human experience topics. Like each year before, the festival and my network of friends did not disappoint. We talked life, spirituality, God, the devil, definitions of authenticity, and assorted other life and intellectual values.
I am now back in Caernarfon for a couple days. Tomorrow, I hit the road again with Hope Deifell (who is visiting the UK from Black Mountain, North Carolina) and Dee Cunniffe. Both talented ladies have been part of Burning Man teams, and other festival events I have been a part of. Dee will come with us, or I should say, take us, up to the Appleby Horse Fair in Appleby-in-Westmoreland. Here we will spend some time with the English and Welsh Gypsies, and Irish Travelers. Dan and Kristy Pattimore are once again offering a place for wayfarers to stay. Like everything else over the last two years, friends will be united, and ministry will reach the festivals and events once again.
Following Appleby, Hope and I will head toward Cornwall and the 3 Wishes Fairy Festival where we will be helping with the stage, and stewarding and following the lead of my talented and crazy friend from Glastonbury, “Diana the Goth Vicar”. After the Fairy Festival, Hope and I will be headed to the humungous Glastonbury Music Festival. We will arrange the decorating of the Iona Community space in Glastonbury, and through the four days of the festival, we will help provide a quiet and safe space for festival goers, with a warm fire under trees.
I will send updates about the festival experiences as I am able. It is not always easy to find dependable internet service, or even the time during the festival weeks.
Some people might ask, “Would Jesus go to a festival?” I would answer, “Isn’t that what he did during Passover, Pentecost, and the other Jewish festivals?” They may have been different kinds of events, but they were the places the people of Israel gathered. These festivals are the places the people in our world are gathering today, and I believe that Jesus is already there. He is just waiting for some of us to join him.