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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, July 26, 2002
    An evening with Margaret Silf
     
    The things you do for Greenbelt. Oliver emailed me recently saying, you live up north. So does Margaret Silf - can you pop over to her place to take her photo for the festival programme? Actually Margaret lives way down south (itÕs all relative isnÕt it?), sixty miles away in Shropshire, but I took on the task because I thought that actually it would be a good evening out; and so it proved to be.

    Margaret is one of this yearÕs festival speakers; sheÕs a writer on spirituality, her books have helped many people discover new ways of finding God, finding themselves, deepen and strengthen their lives. A recent book is called ÔSoul SpaceÕ and itÕs a guide to the various ways people can go on retreat; some sort of serendipity with the festival programme IÕm involved in, also called ÔSoul SpaceÕ, where people can ÔretreatÕ for a while at the top of Cheltenham grandstand, and talk with folk who can connect them with retreats, spiritual directors, soul friends, in other parts of the country at other times of the year.

    Margaret was a reluctant model for the pictures and she confessed to being a bit apprehensive about her first Greenbelt appearance because these sorts of things didnÕt come naturally to one more comfortable with the often solitary, silent pursuit of writing. I think I reassured her that she would enjoy it, and as she unfolded to me her ideas for her seminar I suggested she had a subject which many Greenbelters would relish. SheÕs working around the idea of Ôlife on the edgeÕ, of the dynamics of feeling and being an outsider, and of the energy in that. SheÕs also looking at different models for Ôthe churchÕ (my choice of phrase), more organic ones - what she has to offer about the nature of Ôthe body of ChristÕ is wonderful stuff. I wonÕt say any more here. If you go to hear her youÕll get the benefit.

    It was another kiss of life for me to chat with Margaret and her husband on all the above, plus our good feelings about Rowan WilliamsÕ appointment, what their cat will do while theyÕre on holiday, how a Liverpool church bombed-out in WW2 could become a centre for peace and reconciliation, and of course lots about Greenbelt to set the scene for them. A lovely evening in a hidden, beautiful part of England. Thanks Oliver.