Sunday, November 13, 2011

"... not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more

So wrote the author to the Letter to the Hebrews.

To use the tried and tested English description: I’m knackered. I have eaten a delicious meal of grilled steak, pan-roast potatoes, deep fried parsnip chips and portabella mushrooms cooked with feta cheese. A meal to invigorate even the most tired of armies, methinks. But not this soldier. I am sipping the last of a robust merlot, and am ready for a good night’s sleep.

My energy was at peak level when I arrived at the Diocesan Convention (members of the Church of England would refer to this as a Synod) meeting at noon on Friday. A generic hotel in Melville, a concrete corporate conglomerate (don’t you love that deliberate alliteration?) some seventy miles west of here that hosts some pretty big industrial names, and the bland business hotels that cluster around such centers. Our hotel was a Marriott, and enough said about that.

Now, the thing about Diocesan Conventions is that you have to learn to love them, but expect to be physically and emotionally drained when they’re done. The Diocese of Long Island, its delegates assembled under a faux art deco ceiling, convened at 2:00 pm last Friday. Without a present delegate of my own that day, I sat with others on a round table near the front of the huge room. With two, three, occasionally four priests, and their parish lieutenants. And with great conversation new, and strong friendships were forged.

And on the second day of this holy gathering, this Convention, this so un-English synod, we all gravitated to the same table. Without prompt or prior arrangement. When I returned to the hotel early on Saturday morning it was Debra, a diminutive, African-American priest, who greeted me saying, “I’ve reserved the same seats. I thought we needed to sit in the same places.” And she was so right!

Notwithstanding the deliberations and content of Diocesan Convention, I reached an ecclesiastical saturation point at noon on Saturday, hugged my new friends and drove home. And even behind the wheel of my car I felt a certain sadness that I was leaving such people. Persons with whom I had shared more than a table, but conversation, laughter, aside comments and glances, and (we all agreed, except one! Kim?! ) awful coffee. Yes! I was missing them!

Part of my reasoning with some at Convention (and to myself) was that I had to prepare for the parish Annual Meeting the next day. Today, that is, for it has come and gone. And the reaction to this was quietly surprising to me. With the exception of one parish (which will remain nameless. Hi! Christopher!) all people, both clergy and lay, expressed wishes of support that were negative in their roots. For they were effectively saying: So sorry. Good luck. Hope you win! Etc. I was taken aback. It was as if I was, in their estimation, a gladiator being blessed before walking out to face …

And this evening I know that I am blessed. St Ann’s Annual Meeting was, this morning, even despite the Rector, a most wonderful gathering.

Yet the whole series of events has left me… What was that word again? Oh yes. Knackered.

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