My “Leap of Faith” – WiM 2014:

I’m not the most musical person in the world, I don’t know much about the technology needed to put on a big concert and I’m lacking in the social skills necessary to try and co-ordinate and keep happy a large collection of people; so when Rev’s National Co-ordinator came running into the foyer of the church begging someone to help him write a blurb for the “Leap of Faith” concert programme at WiM 2014, I was delighted enough about having the opportunity to use a skill I already have (my degree was English Literature and Creative Writing, a stark contrast to the large numbers of maths and science people in Rev) that I forgot my general policy of sitting quietly in the corner and trying not to become too involved in the general excitement of any large social gathering like WiM. That’s what Rev is about, after all, allowing every person to find their own talents and ways to contribute.

Therefore, when the same National Co-ordinator asked me a few days later if I would write an article on WiM to go on the new website, my immediate response was enthusiastic assent. Yes, I could finally give something to Rev, the organisation that has supported me so much in the last three and a half years, with something I’m particularly good at. I couldn’t wait to get started. There were so many things I could say.

Or were there? “Write an article about WiM” is a broad proposal, but it does create some questions. How long and detailed did he want it? Was it a WiM in general or a WiM 2014 or Devon’s personal experience of WiM article? Who is my target audience? If you were at WiM, you already know what happened and there’s not much point in me telling you. If you weren’t at WiM then absolutely nothing I can say is going to be enough to help you understand it. I could say “everyone should go to WiM” and leave that as the moral of the story, but I will try to explain.

I will try to explain how the event known as Week in March lasts for eight or nine days in April (not counting the months of planning beforehand), how things you take for granted like showers and sleep suddenly become unnecessary, how a bunch of people with varying levels of musical ability somehow manage to come together and put on an unbelievable concert when half of them had never even met each other or heard the songs a week earlier. I will try to explain how everything that makes Rev great across a whole university term can be distilled into one short, intense week.

My first WiM should have been in Cambridge during my first year at Warwick Rev. I was eager to sign up right until I started to think about details. How was I going to travel to Cambridge? It’s an awkward place to reach and the church was miles from the nearest train station. Would I still have time to write the two essays I needed to do for university? How would I cope with all the strange, new people?  Each question added a doubt to the pile and before long I was far too terrified to consider travelling somewhere that I desperately wanted to go.

The answers could have been perfectly simple. I’d been instantly welcomed to Rev, I had no reason to believe it would be different at WiM. I could have written the essays in the other two weeks of my holiday or worked on them in the time at WiM specifically set aside for studying. I could have taken the train and then asked someone who was driving to WiM to give me a lift from the station to the church. However, I was still new to Rev and still getting to know the people and something as complicated as asking someone for a lift seemed impossibly difficult (I told you my social skills aren’t great). I didn’t go to WiM in 2011.

In 2012 I was in America, so even a Coventry WiM was too far a commute. It was in 2013, my final year at university, that I made it to London for my first WiM. It didn’t take long for me to wonder what I’d been so scared about. Much like when I first joined Rev, I wasn’t given an opportunity to be left out or lonely – it was like coming home to a big, extended family. A friend from Warwick Rev was WiM Co-ordinator that year, but she’d still taken the time to make sure I could be in the same bond group (the small groups of six or seven people that WiM is divided into to make things more manageable) as her so I was with at least one person I knew.

A year later, I trekked a five hour train journey to Warrington to reach WiM 2014 but the nerves were back. I graduated last Summer and haven’t been done anything Rev related since. Would I still be welcome? Any worries that people might have forgotten me in the last nine months were quite literally knocked away when one of my friends (who I haven’t seen or spoken to since last June) jumped on me in enthusiasm. Before long, people I’d never even realised knew I existed were addressing me by name. I was home again.

My first WiM I had sat back and adjusted to the atmosphere. My friends decided for me that my second year was going to be more involved. I joined in the conversation at our bond group meal in Wetherspoons, I took part in sign language splinter again and found myself helping newer members learn the songs when the normal teacher weren’t there, I found myself wondering why I didn’t bring my saxophone to join in the fun times with the band (OK, I’m a very bad saxophonist, but a lot of people were trying instruments for the first time and doing very well). At one point, as people were tag-conducting Amazing Grace (for those who don’t know, tag-conducting is when people take turns conducting a song everyone knows) the very same friend who had convinced me it was a good idea to come to WiM in the first place grabbed my hand and suggested the two of us should conduct together. I was too busy staring at her in stunned disbelief to protest as she pulled me into the centre and I was equally surprised that I didn’t pull away. Part of it was that she was my friend and I didn’t want to respond violently, part of it was that she is a teacher and the part of me that was excessively well-behaved at school has an automatic instinct to obey teachers, but part of it was that I felt safe, I wanted to contribute, and I knew no one would mind if I froze. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done that anywhere but Rev.

There’s a lot more things I could say, about bond groups and busking, splinters and songs, rehearsals and relaxation (well, not a lot of relaxation), but that could take forever. Instead, I’ll finish at the pub lunch that ended our week. To allow me a bit more time to stay and chat I asked if someone would give me a lift to the station to save me walking and they simply said “of course”. It was easy. I’ve almost got the hang of talking to people at WiM.

Well, suppose I’m talking to the whole lot of you with this article, but that doesn’t really count. The best thing to do is to try WiM for yourself. I hope to see you there next year.

© Devon Hazel, 2014