Camping 23-24th May 2014

It was great for mayBe to spend time together at the annual camping adventure. This year we were at Bridge House, Shillingford where Phil and Rosemary gave us a wonderful welcome. Bridget House is a retreat centre where people can come and rest, recharge and stay in a very special spiritual environment. We arrived on the Friday night and set up our tents and camper vans in the field next to the chickens and the labyrinth. "The Belly of the Big Blue" fish tent was put up, food was shared and a late night campfire signalled the start of the mini-mayBe festival. Saturday was to be highly biblical. That is biblical weather. The forecast was solid black clouds with endless raindrops descending. However, we went on faithfully and found that there were many bright spots, both spiritual and meteorological. At Bridge House there is shed at the end of an enchanted walkway, sheltered by fruit trees and embraced in honey suckle. The smell of the blossom and flowers is heavenly as you take footsteps along the walkway boards. The bell and small stained glass window give way to the shed's true identity, a chapel where prayers are held twice a day, morning and evening. It was a blessing to be able to join in with this gathering and keep time with the spiritual rhythm of Bridge House. In all there were 31 of us including campers and day visitors. 15 of us were children under 8 years old so there was plenty of activity on camp. Saturday morning, we played games in doors and out. We ran around the wilder corners of the campsite searching for improvised treasure. We made pictures from twigs, flowers and other bits of nature while sharing some lunch. In the afternoon we headed off down the Thames River path. The weather was holding out and when the sun did come out you could feel real warmth. We arrived at a cafe where we made some chaos before heading home in the now unavoidable rain. That evening we shared fish and chips, as tradition dictates. We shared this in the mayBe tent while taking cover from the rain. Our maturity as a community was beginning to show since this year we did not order too many chips. The children played and another fire was lit that kept us warm as the sun went down. Seated around the campfire under umbrellas, the last few of us finally admitted the rain could not be ignored at 11pm. We all sought the shelter of our respective vans and tents. The special thing about camping, for all its challenges, is that you spend time together. Everyday time together. Eating time, washing up time, walking time, talking time. And you experience some dependency on one another. Putting up tents. Minding children. Cooking and sharing food.When you return home everything seems a bit quiet and the company you've taken for granted is missed. So camping remains on the mayBe annual calendar, a time when we can really be community. On Sunday some of us attended the 9am prayers in the Chapel. We then had a slow breakfast before having a worship gathering of our own seated on the grass under the growing sun. The camp ended with lunch,  sharing what food we had left. Many thanks to Bridge House for their hospitality. Thanks too to Tom and Abi who put together events for the weekend. And finally thanks to all the community for their warmth, fun and companionship throughout the weekend.