It's been a relatively low blog week for me, because the first three days of it were spent at this inaugural event that focused on the issues discussed here. We called it the Center City Summit. (I suspect there's still a button to register for it on this site. Someday soon we'll get that down.)
We had a diverse and hardy crew—perhaps 130 people from—I'm sure I'm leaving some state out in my count—at least thirteen states, representing the west (California, Arizona), the Midwest (Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio), and the east (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts). So, at the very least, most of us made some new friends around these passions, from all over the country.
It was—as promised (or threatened) on our first day together—a content-heavy experience. Lots of sessions, each—in intention at least—chock-full of new things to think about, which led some of us towards sympathy with the classic Far Side strip...
There were occasional moments of controversy, as some folks had to wrestle with whether this point of view cohered with their understanding of faith.
But by and large what I heard was an experience of feeling buzzed, deeply excited about the prospects for pursuing a fresh experience of faith alongside such dynamic and inspiring people as we were meeting around the lunch table.
And what was at least mildly surprising to me was something that I feel abashed to be surprised at all about. I was struck by how meaningful our collective prayer experiences were for me. I shouldn't have been surprised: in theory the faith we're talking about is "mystical" to at least some degree, and that, of course, needs to focus on an actual connection with an actual, living God. You'd think this would involve at least some prayer.
But my inherent introversion often helps me make those connections best when I'm by myself. Group prayer or worship, as needed and helpful as those experiences can be for me, are rarely as meaningful for me. And yet somehow this experience got past all those defenses for me and very much impacted me, each time.
It brought back to me this insight that should have been obvious: For all the heady theories and powerfully-argued points, we are, after all, talking about connecting with God here. And when that happens, it's a really, really good thing.
More soon, I'm sure.