Sean did a good job summarizing the business of yesterday's plenary, but did make one small factual error. This morning he attributed that to "association-sponsored wine drinking." The donor appreciation party last night was quite lovely, with a wide variety of finger foods, a jazz combo, and free-flowing vino. Also, if you want to know where the stylishly-dressed UUs hang out, this was the place. Not a Birkenstock in sight.
To correct his minor mistake: the Statement of Conscience adoption process never required any set percentage of congregations to participate. One presenter mentioned that statistically we might get as high as 10% participation in a good year. So, a leap to a 25% requirement is statistically huge.
Yesterday I had the option of attending two elective sessions, plus two plenaries and choir rehearsal. The first elective, after morning plenary and before a noonish choir rehearsal, I sat in on a workshop called "Using UU Values to Cope with Difficult Behavior." Most folks were hoping to gain skills to take back to their Board meetings, but I'd like to apply it to my Red Cross work. By the time the second elective time rolled around, I felt like I had been going non-stop and the wimp factor kicked in again. I wanted to attend a workshop on being an ally for the differently-abled, but my energy was gone.
Hidden deep in the 132 page program, on the same page as the "ally" workshop description, in a tiny blue box at the bottom of the page, was listed a quiet sanctuary from GA madness: the location and hours of the meditation room. My heart leapt! A beautiful round room, filled with pillows and sunlight, quietly embraced and soothed me. I left calmed and centered, walking more slowly than I had in weeks. That end of the giant convention center was so quiet, and as I walked back into GA I had this lovely transition time. First I heard a murmur of traffic outside, then two quiet voices conversing. As I passed the "ally" workshop room, I saw they had broken into small, intense groups. One man was weeping, with his hands over his face. I was sure that good, healing work was happening there. Around the corner, dozens of colorful banners greeted me, and I could hear footsteps, more talking. Down the escalator, into the exhibit hall, and people were talking more loudly, with animation. The exhibit hall swirled with people, and I plunged in, smiling.
Plenary highlights: We have a self-funded health-care plan for employees and ministers. Yay! Hearing about a group that is working on rituals for women with breast cancer caught my attention. I spent a bit of time day dreaming what those rituals might look like. And one of the discussions about congregational life made me wistful. I do miss the intimacy of my old church in Palo Alto. I miss having the details in my life noticed: my tears, my joys, a new haircut, my slow changes into the person I am now.
I spent some time talking to a staff member at the UUA office of Identity-Based Ministries about what it would take to make the CLF a welcoming congregation. Sean and I both want to do this work, and we hope to talk to Jane Rzepka today.