1. Lesson 1 — don’t think anything will follow normal patterns — Pick up at 5:15am ET…for flight at 8:45am ET. Figured I would get some sleep on the van as I always do.. but, had a driver I hadn’t seen for a while, and he invited me to the front seat to chat on the way down — lol, it worked out fine, but alas. no sleep
2. Be prepared to learn — Made our way through the maze for those who are travelling with service dogs / wheelchairs, with the asisstance of a wonderful ticket agent from Air Canada. Who knew there were special entrances / security?
3. Be open & inviting — introduce other folks — make the circle wide — At the gate, there were people we recognized from GC, including old friend from Francis Sandi Centre. Good to hang. Still trying to come up a catchy phraze for a collection of UCCan folks. MadMonk suggested a few the favourite of which was a flock of freaks (Jesus freaks). Other suggestions welcome.
The energy was great, as people reacquainted, gave hugs. It was also fun to try to identify the GC folks who may be hanging back, unsure if they should join in… I met a lovely woman who was headed home to Kelowna who happened to be United Church, but not headed to GC. Much fun.
4. Don’t count on stuff —The flight was great, with much laughter, but again, not the sleep I normally do. The folks who were managing my friends chair…well..it wasn’t the best situation. We now have two bolts which we aren’t quite sure where they go which were handed to us when we arrived……..that’s tonights project. Argh..but…it could have been worse..at least the chair made it!
5. Breathe in the spirit, let it give life. The campus folks have been wonderful, the volunteers for conference have been wonderful, the delight of meeting new people, and reacquainting with old is life-giving. It is fun to watch even if you aren’t one of the ones who is reacquainting…just watching the faces lights up — gives you life.
6. Be ready for the unexpected delights — the gifts. I was sitting outside of registration, when who should walk up but my niece, who is a graduate student at UBC. She & I had not connected, and so, it was quite a surprise, when she looked down from her office & saw me. It was great. from wondering how I could find/connect with her, there was a chance encounter — a lovely gift. On top of it, I now have an appointment to have BC wine picked out by an expert….to share with friends.
7. Thinks don’t have to be complicated! My hats off to the organizers — it was a smooth, fast and welcoming registration. Amazing. The process was simple..and effective.
8. People want to help — but you have to be willing to ask. Figured out where the bolts went, and though I tried, I was not strong enough to fix it, and the chair let me know it was fed up, when it whacked me over the head with the armrest (lol, that one caused me to lose it laughing on the floor). We went for dinner, confident we could find a friend to help, and sure, enough, within a few moments of explaining, two folks had jumped in and fixed the chair.
9. Good things cometh to those that wait . Dinner was late, yet , it gave an opportunity for gathering, visiting. We were tantalized by the smell of salmon on the grill, and then had a feast in the UBC courtyard, with homemade salads, bannock, and delicious Pacific Salmon. It was presented by a local First Nations congregation (I will get specifics to give proper credit. I sadly realized that I had neglected to bring tobacco. I am new to this learnings of thanks. One of my tasks tomorrow, will be to learn more about those who were such gracious hosts tonight..and fed us wonderfully.
10. Start a conversation – throw a question — people are passionate…share your dreams, challenges, concerns – There are so many wonderful bright folks here. Gifted and passionate about the church. Yes, we could talk about the weather, but, why would I when surrounded by such gifts! In the time around dinner, had great conversations on Palestine/israel, Neos (youth ministry), corporate battlegrounds, the best twitter package (TwitterGenius). Yesterday was a fascinating conversation around discernment and membership requirements for same..and the implciation to those transferring from other denominations
11. The diversity of our theology and presentation is what gives us LIFE. The highlight for me today, is a Gathering publication “In the Potter’s House — a prayer resource for GC40”. It is a celebration of 25 years of the Gathering publication. We were sitting under the tree, going through it, laughing and in awe at the power of the material in it. A scant 19 pages, it is a resource that I will treasure.
So, let me close with a prayer from this publication, and may it touch your heart.
Prayer for Ending the Day
Thank you, Loving God, thank you for being
with me today, in all the finding out, in all
the newness, in all the wondering.
Thank you for those who have helped me in different ways…
Thank you for loved ones and friends back home who are thinking about me even as I am holding them in prayer..
I know there will be much that is new and unexpected.
I know I will be challenged in ways I cannot yet tell.
I know you, God, will give me the strength I need.
Bless Moderator David and those who lead our General Council tomorrow and bless me with a good sleep tonight.
(David Sparks, Gathering Advisory Board Chair…from Gathering (check out www.united-church.ca/planning/lectionary ))