Thursday, March 23, 2017
Disclaimer- no apology: I am a child whose formative years were in the late 60s and 70s of the previous century. There are some great things about this- an ability to claim the ground-breaking cultural revolution that brought peace, love, feminism and racial justice to the foreground and the concomitant 1960s music scene ... and there are some not-so-great things about this- like the Vietnam War, Kent State, Watergate and, on a smaller scale, the decline of rock and roll into the disco movement.
Once I made my daughter promise that she would play "Mud Slide Slim" at my funeral. It's one of my favorite songs. Now, I'm thinking that maybe it should be reserved for the calling hours or the party at home, afterwards.
Nonetheless, whatever era you were raised in, my guess is that there is a sound track to go along with it.
This week, as I landed home after many days away at The House of Bishops, the Ordination of Gretchen Rehberg in Spokane, and the Bishop's Executive Secretaries Together (BEST) conference in Philly, I was led to this one-minute classic (also off of the Mud Slide Slim album)
Isn't it nice to be home again.
Perhaps that's enough.
But for those of you who want a little more info, read on. One of the goals of this blog (besides giving me something to do on Thursday nights while hubby is at choir practice) is to communicate to my constituency about what I do with my time in order to answer that age old question, "Yes, but what do bishops actually do?"
The House of Bishops meets twice annually. The fall meeting is in a different diocese each time and the spring meeting alternates between Camp Allen in TX and Kanuga in NC. At least this has been the pattern and, these days, it seems that some of the old patterns may be shifting or, at least, there is conversation about what works and is best for us and a sensible desire to do things for a reason, not just because we've "always done them that way." It is important, I think, for the leaders of the church to model some of their own good ideas, like embracing change.
And so, this spring we met at Kanuga where we did some of what we always do: worship, gather in fellowship and prayer, talk, eat, walk the grounds and catch up, and to try on some new patterns of being together. Those of us in the first three years of our episcopacy (called with some affection "Baby Bishops" but really called the "Classes enrolled in the 'College for Bishops'"), we met a day early to receive some additional training and spend some time with our peer coaches. It was time well spent.
The thing that we dared to do differently this year was to bring a consulting/training group along with us, called Visions Inc. (see last week's blog entry "Operating Systems" for a more complete description of the work). The work was met with some affirmation- and some resistance- (some of the valued retreat and networking time was lost) and, still, there was a sense that as a Body we had put some energy into lifting up an item of crucial relevance and need: Multi-cultural and Diversity training. Sure, there were - and remain- other things- essential things- to talk about: the wild political climate and the challenges in ministering in these times... the immigration ban and our work with refugees... how to respond to epidemic drug use and unrelenting poverty and gun violence. And those things got talked about in the margins. As recently as today, I was talking with some of our bishops in Province III about how it is that we can make time for these other essential conversations, in our collegial gatherings, as well. We haven't figured out the perfect balance, yet, but we are working at it, shifting, trying, meeting, shifting and trying again.
And then, it was out to Spokane. The honor of serving as a co-consecrator is hard to describe. (Again, see last week's entry for some background on why I traveled to Spokane). The thrill of sitting at the transept crossing in that giant Gothic cathedral (word has it that Spokane's cathedral is the 4th largest Episcopal cathedral in the US) and participating as a leader in the liturgy was just awesome, really. Seated next to ++Michael Curry. With ++Katharine Jeffers Schori in the pulpit. It was Episcopal liturgy writ large. Timpani. Brass. Kids with banners. And I was glad for the way that we do things, in this historic, graceful and dignified way. (Now, if you know me, you know that there is no greater delight for me than sitting on the floor of a parish hall with an apple-crate altar and a bunch of kids sprawled out, celebrating Holy Communion in the most inclusive and informal way ever) and... the breadth of our tradition that can include both forms of liturgy and celebrate Christ's presence and the holiness of the moment in both services... that's my- extraordinary- church. So- Spokane. I also wandered around the downtown, ate some fabulous artisan vegan pizza, took lots of photos and met some interesting folks on the street.
And then, yesterday and today- Philly. This annual conference for Executive Secretaries of Bishops and Bishops' Assistants is a traveling event. This year it landed in our Province and so our Province III Executive Secretaries (Carolyn among them) were in charge of the planning. It is the custom for the bishops resident in the host province to come for part of the conference and so this morning we had a couple of hours where the bishops rotated through different tables engaging small groups in Q&A (I learned a lot!) and yesterday we spent a short amount of time touring Christ Church Cathedral and enjoying a service of Holy Communion with Bishop Curry. I came away with a sense of deep appreciation for these hard working servants of God and so grateful that they have a solid peer group of their own who support each other in their difficult work. (Lord knows, bishops are not the easiest people to work for...)
And now, a bowl of lentils, rice and fried onions (Mujadara) wait for me on the stove. It's comfort food for one who is thinking "Isn't it nice to be home again." Indeed.