Sorry if you will now have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day. “Earworms” can be so disturbing. The song has been stuck in my head for about 24 hours now because I’ve been trying to sort out all my thoughts and feelings from the General Assembly (GA) in Indianapolis this past week. The experience of GA stirs me on so many levels, and the feels just hint a little at all that is going on. They are like whispering little voices talking all the same time saying different things and I wish I had Dumbledore’s Pensive and wand to sort them out one by one. But I don’t. So I will do it the old fashioned muggle way – with ink on paper, or whatever one calls this medium now, keyboard and word program.
First of all driving there was stirring. Saturday I drove up to Cincinnati and then through Indiana to Indianapolis. The drive through Kentucky was just breathtaking! It was a lovely clear day, and the green hills had a special glow about them. Then we got to northern KY and I began my feeling of disorientation. Thank the creator for GPS, because I didn’t really have to think too much about where I was going, because my mind was flitting all over. I knew these roads. They were familiar to me. Yet I hadn’t been in this area since May 2009, I do not believe. And I even lived in this area before went overseas in 1993. People I knew, jobs I had had, random memories were popping up out of nowhere. There was enough still there to remind me of the past, but things had changed so much. And I began what I have been referring to as my “Rip Van Winkle” mode ~ trying to remember what was, while being overwhelmed by the differences. And I had to just keep on moving . . .
So I get through Cincinnati and start traveling through Indiana. I was born in Indiana ~ West Lafayette, IN as a matter of fact. And I was recalling road signs from my childhood which said, “Hoosier Hospitality is no accident!!” I was looking for those signs. Didn’t see them. That didn’t make Indiana any less hospitable, but I did miss the hills of KY.
I arrived at the hotel, settled in, and still in my traveling clothes thought I’d get checked into the assembly. And as I wandered around, I saw people all over the place – some with official GA badges hanging around their necks, some with costumes on! I think there were more in “Pop Con” costumes then from our assembly at that point. It was awesome! According to the online source: “Indy PopCon is a pop culture convention that has been held at the Indiana Convention Center since 2014.” Young people wandering all over for their convention, dressed as their favorite characters. It gave me so much joy!
Then I ran into a friend from the Capital Area, and since he couldn’t get a second ticket for his husband to join him, he let me have his ticket to Sharon Watkin’s farewell dinner. And I had to go, like, immediately. I latched myself onto another friend and her Mom, and went to the dinner, dressed in my driving clothes, and had hoped my smile would shine away any vision of my sweat pants.
As I sat at the table, and people joined us, one soul from my life after another was suddenly in front of me, and I was quickly overwhelmed with joy. I think I even squealed a few times. The dinner was lovely, the presentations were moving. Then I went to the Capital Area reception and saw people I hadn’t seen for months and met new people and after that, still in my ugly sweat pants, I floated back to my room.
Sunday I was planning on watching the FCC Morehead worship service from my hotel room, but there were some technical difficulties, which caused me so much frustration because I really wanted to see it, and at the same time I wanted to be there to fix the problem, and still be in Indianapolis… O THE AGONY!!! Then I discovered that one of our church representatives was sick and unable to make the trip, and that made me sad. So I did a lot of meditation and prayer. After that I went on and toured around the halls afterwards and ran into the delegate who could make it. She was brilliant and joyous and she gives me so much hope! We went to lunch outside, the sidewalk was uneven at one point, and I fell. People came rushing to my aid, but no one could do much for my greatest ache – which was my wounded pride. That fall caused me pain throughout the rest of the assembly, but got better. I just keep moving on . . .
There were, over the next days, worship services, workshops, business and resolutions to be dealt with ~ and history to be made! Our denomination voted with over a 2/3rds majority to call Rev. Teresa Hord Owens as general minister and president. She is the first black female head of a mainline protestant church. But those facts are not what make her election such a phenomenon. It is what she symbolizes for our faith. For our denomination, unity is, perhaps, its most important guideline. “We are not the only Christians, but Christians only,” “All means all,” “We are a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” These are all sayings that our denomination holds dear, and with the election of Rev. Owens, we are continuing our commitment to unity of all God’s people.
The theme of this year’s Assembly was “ONE”. A simple word, with so many challenges and interpretations. Being ONE people, regardless of race, sexual orientation, nationality, political leanings, is our calling as set from Christ. John 17:22-23 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. It was good to focus for days on the idea of loving God, loving each other, and having hope that we may be one. I was reminded of the early days of me “discovering” the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I was seriously thrilled that this was a church who was not set on proclaiming that theirs was the only way to God, one that respected education, differences, communication, and tried to focus its being on loving God and each other and being ONE.
I can say I am proud to be called into this church. I am in love with everyone who was at the convention – and perhaps especially happy that for a day or two we shared the convention center with those extraordinary young people of Pop Con! It seemed like such a perfect fit.
So, I drove home on Wednesday, really wanting to be Sabrina and just wiggle my nose and be home and not have to drive 4 hours. But I am glad I go to experience the wonders of Kentucky on the return trip. I looked into the rolling hills before me and knew that soon enough I would be nestled into those mountains and be home, where I could so loudly exclaim, “I LOVE MY CHURCH!” I love it because it knows how to love, how to strive to be ONE with each other. And we are called to know and share this love, because there are so many, who do not know the bountiful, glorious, love that has no boundaries, that God is.
In unknotting the threads of my feelings, I can say with confidence that those confusing feelings, that pain, the disorientation and the “Rip Van Winkle” affect all came down to the ONE truth that God has called us to unity in love regardless. And there is joy in proclaiming this. We had days of focusing on ONE, we lived ONE, and so let us affirm our truth that in God is the power, in us is the power that we can achieve more ONE every day of our lives. Feelings need some reflection and guidance and time, in order to overcome our previous life experiences, and find the purity of God through all our ego based selves. And this is what community in faith is all about. This is the urgency of NOW in becoming ONE. Come to church, let us love and share and know that there is ONE God, and we are a vital part, in and of that ONE!