So here we are in California for the NCCL conference. It's one of the best organizations/conferences I've worked with over these years. NCCL is academic, wholistic, cutting edge, evolutionary and open-minded. The topics they are interested are the same things I'm interested in. I'm so among my people here, even in a way that's beyond being at school among my academic peers. This organization is made up of people who know whereof they speak. Lots of the people I've met here have the word "evangelization" in their titles, and they mean it. I love being in this world of like-minded, dedicated people, and it gives me hope.
It also makes my mind race, lots of new ideas and great tips and tricks to apply right away. I'm inspired to take on huge projects this coming year, huger than I should probably. I can't wait to get back (well, I can wait, I mean... we are in California after all!) and try things out.
We've been rubbing elbows with catechetical and evangelization rockstars. Everyone is approachable and supportive and helpful. Someday I hope to be one of those rock stars, receiving awards while bored people who have barely heard my name eat their free lunch and plan to steal my ideas.
Many years ago now, we attended the NCCYM in, as it turned out, the apex of the sexual abuse crisis. While we were there that week (Denver, was it?), we'd be pulled into Boston meetings to hear about which of our pastors had been removed that day, due to accusations that were either founded or un-founded. We would watch our friends' faces flicker with worry when they were told their own pastor was already gone, and we'd wait in fear to hear our own pastor's names be read. Outside of those meetings, we'd introduce ourselves to other conventioneers and when we said "from Boston" they would sympathetically frown and offer prayers. It was a weird feeling that week, a feeling of being marked as doomed, yet still walking around amongst the living.
Now, many years later, we are starting to get that sympathetic reaction from people again. The people here know about what's going on in the American Church, what dioceses are in trouble, etc. Cleveland people get that sympathetic cluck too, now. We sympathize with them.
Still we soldier on, and wish everyone from poor old Boston could come to a week like this and be bolstered with hope for the future, even while we hang in limbo and wait to see what will become of us. We'll breathe in as much of the sunshine as we can while we are here and hope to carry it home in our hearts.