Monday, July 19, 2010
As one person noted -- my blogging has been stalled. How would I sum up the wonderful, amazing nine days of the Small Church Collegium at Virginia Theological Seminary at the end of June? Well, here's an attempt. Joel was with me for five of the days as were the spouses of the other 26 clergy from across North America and one from England. We made many new friends and learned much from colleagues and fine instructors. The program is all coordinated by Dr. Marilyn Johns and was graciously funded by the Lily Endowment to foster connections and learning.
I'm grateful for new relationships with colleagues across North America and that our conversations continue. I also want to share some of my learning. Marilyn has set up the Small Church, Big Ideas website with helpful information that will continue to be added to. Our worship was led twice daily by Presbyterian Kris Haig, American Baptist Kirk B. Jones and John Bell from the Iona Community. Kris developed a meaningful Powerpoint liturgy from Litany of the Person (link has text only). The Litany can be used for personal reflection also. Kirk's preaching was animated and inspiring and his website conveys some of his heavenly work. I found this youtube video that conveys some of John Bell's easy-going leadership that inspires us apprentice angels (though no thick sweater was needed in humid Virginia). One of our fine instructors, Margaret Marcuson of Portland Oregon also has a website on leadership and a blog worth subscribing to.
Also part of the experience was time on the historic Virginia Theological Seminary Campus. It was founded in the 1820s and the original buildings served as a Union Hospital during the Civil War. Some 500 Union soldiers are buried on the grounds.
After our cold June in AB, I delighted in the warm, at times, hot, humidity Virginia weather. To me, warm humid weather is surely a metaphor and experience of God's embrace. (Not everyone agreed with me but at least my Savannah, Georgia colleague did!). At the end of the busy, full days as darkness fell, I'd find a bench on the Seminary grounds. While robins still chirped, I'd sit in the warmth and watch for the fireflies lighting up here and there underneath the oak trees. This was my first time to this part of the US and my first time ever to experience the magic and wonder of fireflies. I've only read about them in fiction books as a child. Sacred moments before it was time to head inside to get ready for the next day -- each one full of Godly conversations and learnings.
Like fireflies that blink on light in darkness and then are gone, so those nine days seemed to pass quickly and then are gone. But like the memory of those magical fireflies, I carry with me into the weeks and years ahead, the learnings and reflections and the friendships.