Wednesday again. The week in full-bloom. Life is about to get peripatetic again. Tomorrow I am heading off across the state to attend a workshop on Power and Boundaries sponsored by our state Council of Churches. Topics include things like: The Theological, Sociological and Psychological Context of Power and Boundaries in Churches. Power and Gender in the Pastoral Role. Appropriate boundaries in the Pastoral Role. Abuse Prevention. Pastoral Self-care. It sounds interesting and like something that has "multivocational" applications. What I didn't notice when I registered is that it is the day before Diocesan Convention starts. Also way over there on the other side of the state. This means that tomorrow evening I will trek two hours back home only to get back in the car on Friday and retrace some of the same roads to get to the Big City where convention is being held this year. Sigh. The downside of my lovely small town life.
Last year was my first convention. It was very powerful for me. I expected to reconnect with old friends, meet some new people, do some work, but I did not expect that it would have the amazing spiritual impact on me that it had. It came right on the heels of ordination and I was emotionally and spiritually wide-open to such things. Our keynote speaker was Bishop Steven Charleston, who was moving and inspiring. The first night of convention I had a dream. In the dream, I met a man. He was dressed as a shepherd. It was very vivid, I can still see his rough linen tunic, leather belt with a knife in a scabbard, his sandals, the dirt on his feet and under his nails. He spoke to me in the dream. He said, "my plan is for you to have more abundant life" and I must have looked blank, because he put his hands on his hips and said it again more forcefully. And again, apparently I still did not look like I was registering because he stomped his foot and said it again with feeling! I woke up at that point and found myself in tears. That dream has never left me. At various times I have wondered what it meant, or thought I knew, and every now and again I go read John 10:10 and think about that shepherd.
This convention is shaping up to be somewhat controversial. For the past two years we have been in an intense process of self-assessment and evaluation as a diocese. A group of very visionary people has proposed some ideas that could reshape the way we "do church" in some very important ways. We will be asked to say yes or no to this plan. If it goes forward it will require some significant change at many levels. You all know what that means! Additionally, our Bishop has begun planning his retirement and is asking us to approve a plan to elect our new Bishop early enough to allow that person to serve in tandem with him for a time. This idea too has raised strong feelings on both sides of the equation. Other proposals and resolutions before us are equally intense. In times such as these it is easy to lose focus. To forget who and Whose we are. To get all reactive and choose sides and get lost in the battle. I would so appreciate your prayers for all of us as we meet together this weekend. For wisdom and clarity. For gentleness with one another. For quiet to be able to hear the movement of the Spirit in our midst.