I am someone who curls into a foetal position when I pray intensely. I kneel, or crouch over the seat in front of me if I am seated, shut out the world and its noise. Or I lie flat on the floor if I am alone, or in a free setting. I would look distinctly odd if I prayed like that in a middle of a big outdoor carnival.
We used to go every year to New Wine, a charismatic festival in Shepton Mallet, Somerset–noise, bands till late in the night, radios with sermons playing in the campsite, loud worship with lyrics with not much substance to them repeated, ad infinitum. I had to sit down and shut out the world to try to concentrate in meetings in which everyone else was jumping and waving their arms about.
Part of the beauty of arriving at middle age is that one now knows what works for you, and what does not. No more New Wine (though I have been 4 times.) It is stress for me–noise, queues, long walks to get to places, The crowds, 10,000 plus, the rat race for good seats, the worship, loud, and hyped, whereas I am a choral music, Taize, Gregorian chant sort of girl, though I do love Matt Redman, Michael Card, Rich Mullins, who have verbally rich lyrics, particularly the latter two.
However, there were some remarkable speakers, particularly the amazing HEIDI BAKER who is one of the zaniest, freest, happiest, absurdest, most eccentric and inspiring Christian speakers I’ve ever heard. Her faith is contagious.
But to endure a week of camping, tents, rain, a good half a mile or more walk from camp site to the venues, crowds, even for the good speakers, is something I am no longer going to do.
Different strokes for different folks. I encounter God in silence, solitude, reflection, in Scripture study and private prayer, in nature walks. I find it harder to encounter him in the midst of 5000–10000 other folk–that after all was the recorded size of several of Jesus’s audiences.
But sadly, my kids do. Zoe had an experience of baptism in the holy spirit, and stayed up till 11 at night praying with her friends. Wow. The passion of youth!!
So I guess, she can go to the youth version, Soul Survivor, and I can stay at home encountering God in my favourite way, with a mug of tea, a Bible and journal, or roaming the fields around my home, alone.
My spiritual activity takes place in solitary walks with God, in solitary prayer, in silence and solitude. Just those very words are balm to my spirit–silence, solitude, peace.
So, if I have to take spiritual holidays, I will take them in contemplative abbeys, or out in the wilderness, not in the noise and loud music of New Wine.