jeannie and fly in the morning to santa fe, new mexico, for the emergent gathering. i went to this event two years ago, but jeannie’s never been. it’s more than twice the size it was two years ago, so i’m hoping it’ll still be able to have that great relational feel. i can only be there for about 36 hours, since our pittsburgh national youth workers convention is this week, and, um, i kinda need to be there! so, i’m really hoping to accomplish what i’m setting out to do: just about nothing (see, if you set the bar low, you succeed almost every time!). no, really, my goal in going is just to stay connected to people who have — in spite of running major conventions together and publishing a couple dozen books together and having about a dozen or more two- and three-day meetings over the past four years, which could lead any group of acquainences to become cold to one another — become true friends. i already miss having an excuse (a meeting) to hang out with brian and doug and tony and dan and mark and so many others. just typing their names brings back such a flood of wonderful memories and brings a rush of warmth and emotion. tim and tim and holly and damien and michael and ivy and chris and, and… oh, just so many more. and, shoot, even my “we’re trying to be friends even if it hasn’t worked out perfectly so far” friend, andrew jones, is going to be there.
even as i write this, listing these friends, i can see that there’s no way i’ll be able to spend the time with each of them, in 36 hours (which includes two nights! useless sleep!), and i’ll leave with regrets.
ugh. i have never, for one second, questionned our (ys’s) decision to stop hosting the emergent convention or publishing the emergentys line of books. it’s SO right for who we are as a company/ministry — our mission and calling and collective passion really is youth ministry.
but i loved serving the emerging church. and as these people shifted from acquaintences to friends, i loved serving them (most of the time!). and since they became friends, i loved that we had multiple excuses a year to get together — at my house, at doug’s church, at tony’s cabin, at conventions and convention hotels — and hang out, be involved in each other’s lives, pray for each other, fight, plan, brainstorm and dream.
reading brian’s last book, i can’t help but think of every detail of our meetings at tony’s cabin, when reading brian’s (theoretically fictional, but clearly based on tony’s cabin) description of the characters north woods cabin group. hearing that the emergent 07 event isn’t coming easily, i want to jump right back in, and instantly remember multi-day meetings at my house (with spontaneous pool cool-downs), weird hotel suites in random cities where we had meetings, and circling chairs and couches in the middle of the now-history solomon’s porch worship space.
ok, i’m rambling now. more for myself than anyone else. it would probably be fun for me (and tediously boring for everyone else) to actually go into much more detail on these memories. but that’s enough for now — enough to get me all melancholy as i head off to see these friends in santa fe…