Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sacred Conversations at Synod

Please allow me a few moments to openly process something.

I leave for General Synod early Friday morning. There's no telling whether I'll be able to "live-blog" at all while I'm there, as I'm not going to attempt to smuggle the laptop out of my house. But that's not that important.

A good seminary friend is a pastor in the area, and my plan for Sunday morning was to wander over and hear him preach. His church is actually closing at the end of July, and while I'm sure I'll have other opportunities to see him in action, it certainly won't be at this particular place. I figured it'd be a good way to use some Synod downtime, relax before all the committee work and jam-packed plenary sessions got started.

You see, General Synod does not let much time go unaccounted for, and that includes Sunday morning. But at Synod, we don't worship on Sunday morning...I can't recall a worship service being scheduled on Sunday morning at Synod since I went to the 2001 Synod in Kansas City. Two years ago in Hartford, people were simply given Sunday morning for free time, with a few suggestions. By that point we'd experienced two full days of 50th anniversary celebration and such, and I was feeling a little UCCed out so I just explored downtown for the morning. There is a big worship celebration set for Sunday afternoon, so it's not like it'll be a worship-less day.

This coming Sunday, there are a series of sacred conversations on race being held. One can choose which subject dealing with race one can converse about, including race in the media, race in everyday life, race and newer generations, etc. I was originally planning on going to my friend's church anyway. The decision was admittedly both an act meant to rejuvenate during a busy Synod and an act of defiance...I don't wanna and you can't make me. It wasn't that I didn't see the worth in having them, I just didn't feel like it.

Yesterday I had lunch at the nearby Panera. I have a shut-in in a facility nearby and I was going to head up to that area both to visit him and to pick up the new Regina Spektor album anyway, so I figured I'd enjoy some chicken and wild rice soup as well. The place was packed, as it often is, so I had to sit quite close to the people at the next table and thus was unintentionally privy to their conversation even as I attempted to concentrate on Edgar Sawtelle instead.

It was an older man and a younger man, presumably father and son, both white. The older man was basically lecturing the younger on his decision-making abilities, and after a few minutes of this there was a silence before turning to more light-hearted fare. There is a Mexican restaurant right next to the Panera in this complex, and the older man asked if the younger had ever eaten there: "It's Mexican food, and I know how much you like Mexican food." And then after a brief pause, "You know...w*tback food." He said this last line in that way where older white guys think they're being cute, like they're getting away with something.

It wasn't until I woke up this morning that I connected my lunch experience with these upcoming race conversations, and began to think about how often these little things happen in everyday life (I've been privy to my fair share in my corner of Americana), and how it may be worthwhile for me to stick with the Synod schedule.

I don't know why I typed all this out. But I thought it'd be helpful. And now you get to read it. Lucky you.