I had to use my fingers to count up how many days I've been here: the answer is five. I also figured out that it is Friday. General Conference is like that - a vortex, a time warp, a specific geographic place with a specific cast of characters that some of us inhabit for about two weeks in person and others visit via live streaming, social media and sometimes in person. Friends ask how it's going, and it can be hard to answer. So far this week I have succeeded in accompanying a friend to not one but to urga-cares, helped negotiate a logistical problem involving a hotel business office, worked with a small group to vet clergy and laity who have been nominated by our Bishops for the Judicial Council, and ordered the same breakfast burrito three mornings in a row. I've also forgotten to eat lunch twice, misplaced my nametag only to discover I was wearing it, and accidentally started a debate about trans bathrooms. It's a mixed bag, as my father-in-law would say.
Here's something fun from Wednesday night. I was walking from the Max lightrail stop to a friend's hotel and spotted a Pizza Shmizza. I started babbling, "Oh! my friend Jake from Omaha works at one of those, but there's like 20 of them in Portland and I'll never find him... wait! there he is!"
Yup. From across the street, through the window, I spot Jake. Who only works at that spot on Wednesday nights. My friends were stunned, I was delighted, and Jake? Speechless.
Most of us are using the light rail to travel to the convention center, which is on the east side of the river, to our hotels - which are mostly west of the river or to the south. I saw this mural near one of the Max stops two days ago.
I've already heard words spoken in plenary sessions that I found less than hopeful; I've heard speeches and phrases that I found mean-spirited, patronizing, unkind and designed to confuse. I have also heard helpful, hope-filled words. Bishop Dyck's sermon this morning is a stand-out example. You can the video of the service here: May 13 General Conference morning worship I am a hopeful person and I think that the church is a place where we are called to figure out how to find hope together. Not a "should" kind of hope, as in "I hope you get your act together," but more of a "I have hope that we will discover what new thing God is doing in our midst" kind of hope. I hope that as we proceed together we will remember to look beyond the immediate moment towards the future to which we are being called - with hope.