Saturday, June 27, 2009
I started packing last night for General Convention. I leave right after church on Sunday, July 5, which is a mere eight days from today.
I've become really good at packing. Five years as Canon Missioner to The Oasis can do that for you. In those five years, I lived out of a suitcase and traveled extensively enough to get two free trips to Hawai'i in frequent flier miles.
I can pack for two weeks in one medium suitcase - clothing, hair care products, toiletries, shoes, sneakers - the works. I use a small carry on bag for my medicine, a change of clothing (just in case my luggage goes to Bangladesh while I go to Anaheim), my laptop, and assorted reading material.
Over the years, I've invested in some Travel Jack and Chico Travel clothing which roll up into little balls and don't wrinkle. And then, of course, I can accessorize with scarfs and shawls and jewelry that also don't take up much room.
What is that line from "Steel Magnolias"? Olympia Dukakis' character says something like, "My dear, the difference between human beings and lower life forms is our ability to accessorize."
The worst things to pack are sneakers and books. This time, I got the books taken care of on my Kindle, TBTG,
My Puma's, however, are my Puma's.
And, if I don't take them, I won't exercise and if I don't get in at least 40 minutes of exercise - 20 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of weight resistance - every morning while I'm at General Convention, well . . . let's just say it won't be a pretty sight.
Well, it won't be a pretty sight anyway. Oh, parts of GC are, to be sure. My favorite part is the people-watching.
There's a real festival quality to the whole event. People who only meet face to face once every three years, but have been doing this for five, six, seven conventions, are the best to watch. They greet each other like long-lost relatives and you know what? They are. Indeed, they are sometimes closer than their closest relatives.
The Bible Studies and Daily Eucharists? Well, frankly, I'm ambivalent. It really just depends on who is at your table for Bible Study. In all the times I've been attending General Convention - and, my first one was in 1985 in Anaheim - I've never ended my time with a full table or the same people around the table for Bible Study.
The first ones to bail are the bishops. That sort of sets the tone for the rest of the participants to suddenly remember they have something Very Important to which to attend. Besides, 'institutional' daily bible study really doesn't require a whole lot of imagination and creativity. It might be good if we engaged scripture a little differently - creatively - inventively.
The first or second Daily Eucharist is glorious, as is the last. The rest begins to feel like - oh, I don't know - SHOW TIME!
When you're in a room - check that, arena - with 5-8,000 of your closest friends, the performance aspect of the liturgy becomes the overpowering thing.
The debut of new psalm or choral settings, the 'rock star' status of the preacher - all of it becomes more elevated and the sacrament becomes secondary to it. I'm probably not expressing this well.
For me, I think it's mostly that this Big Eucharist happens Every Day. I mean, I loves me a good lobster dinner - but once, maybe three times a year is just fine, thank you. If I had it Every Day, it wouldn't be as special or taste as good. Does that make sense?
The legislative process? What's your favorite metaphor for something slow and painful? Root canal? Yup, certain issues can be like that. Watching paint dry or grass grow? Yup, that'll do. Watching sausage being made? Yup, yup, yup.
Mostly, for me, it's like watching open heart surgery. In and among the clumsy, klutzy, back-thumping familial greetings and the slow, decidedly un-sexy 'bump and grind' of the legislative process, there is an exquisite delicacy to the timing of things.
There's an amazing institutional and personal vulnerability that sometimes makes people look away with a combination of deep respect and embarrassment. Other times, one can only gawk and stare in awe or disbelief.
On the whole, it's a pretty amazing event in the life of the church.
So, why am I grumpy?
I suppose part of it has to do with Ms. Conroy's knee. We won't know until Thursday when the surgery will be scheduled. And, we know that repairing a ruptured tendon is more complicated than knee replacement surgery, and the recovery time is longer.
I really don't want to leave if she's going to have surgery while I'm away. And, I really don't want her to postpone it until I come back.
She's fine, thanks to so many of your prayers. And, we have lots of people who are more than willing to help.
It's not that. It's not her. It's me.
I know this is silly and I just need to put on my Big Girl Panties and get over my self, but I'm still smarting from the last General Convention - especially B033.
I'm sorry, but there it is.
I know I'm not going to get an apology for B033, but you know what? I need one. Not that it would be 'nice' to have one. I think it's needed and necessary.
I think the church needs to apologize - to EVERYONE - for breaking our own anti-discrimination canon in order to appease the orthodox as well as assuage the anxieties of the blokes at Lambeth Palace.
It didn't work. They've gone off and started the ACNA, the CCP, the ACA, and God only knows what other alphabet soup of splinter groups that have formed.
I think someone actually wrote an essay recently, warning about a severe shortage of 'A's' and 'C's' in the Anglican communion.
No one should be surprised that the appeasement intent of B033 didn't work. Formation of splinter groups and strident behavior are all part and parcel of the history of Evangelical Anglicans.
Meanwhile, some of my dear friends who truly have a vocation to the episcopacy were deeply hurt by B033 - and the dioceses that would have called them are impoverished for the loss of them.
I know I am / we are not going to get an apology. It's all "let's just move beyond B033" and reaffirm our canons which do not allow us to discriminate. I suppose there's some real political merit in that.
I'm used to the horse-trading that goes on in religious politics. '
No apology but let's see if we can move ahead on liturgical rites for blessing covenants'. Right.
'No apology but let's put our efforts into getting marriage equality'. Right.
'Let's move beyond B033 and work for all the sacraments for all the baptized.' Right.
I got it. I understand. Unlike many of my colleagues, I do believe we will get stuff done at GC. Some stuff will stall in the HOB, but not everything. And, not for long.
I think the overwhelming mood about the pending legislation concerning marriage equality or all the sacraments for all the baptized is like spinach. If you don't like it, you know it's good for you and you have to eat it, but you really don't want to, but you'll do it if you're told you have to because, well, because it's good for you and you're tired of fighting with your parents about it.
So, you take a 'no thank you helping', pour lots of salt and pepper on it and mix it with a ton of butter and just do it.
I think that even those among us with the dullest of sight understand that a strategy of 'appeasement' won't work. Doesn't work. Hasn't worked.
Some dioceses, like South Carolina, are poised to join the ACNA. It has already been announced that Kendall Harmon isn't going to waste his energy and effort by going to General Convention, but rather, has been named something like Anglican Development Coordinator.
As if we don't get the message in that, Bishop Lawrence. As I said the other day, it's like hearing a low growl coming from a dog who's possessive of his bone.
What I really need in the next eight days is an attitude adjustment. I need to get my head wrapped around the political realities of General Convention and focus in on all the positives.
I need to call together a circle of prayer and be faithful to it as part of the preparation of my soul.
I need to eat my own spiritual spinach, too.
I know what to do to get myself ready. That's not it.
I think the truth of it is that I'm just going to be grumpy for the next couple of days.
Fair warning, is all.