Happy Birthday to ME!
I am so excited to be spending my birthday among such an incredible group of people. This is definitely one of the most memorable birthdays I have had!
Today was kind of a slow day at the convention, a time when we could catch our breath and gear up for the next few days. There were some sessions this afternoon but I elected to stay at the hotel and hang out in the Young Adult Festival lounge with a few others.
It was great fellowship time being creative and crafty (they have arts and crafts stuff!) and just talking about mutual interests. I am admittedly a bit of a nerd---we talked about Stargate, The Wheel of Time series, Game of Thrones, Dungeons & Dragons (I used to play back in the day), among other things. We had a blast together!
Around 4pm we decided to go down to one of the restaurants in the hotel because they wanted to have celebratory birthday beverages with me. (Thanks Zeke!) We were talking, laughing, being generally church-nerdy when our waiter came over and said they had gotten a complaint about people talking about religion and asked us to keep it down (or not talk about it, I can't remember exactly, but it was along those lines)... we were initially kind of shocked, and the woman sitting at the bar who had I guess made the comment was like "Uh that's not what I said..." and it was just generally awkward and weird all around. Nobody really knew what to do but there it was, hanging out there, those words. That feeling of public awkwardness when something happens and you're not sure what to do with it. Someone offends you or says/does something that takes you aback.
After the initial shock we just sort of went back to our conversation but quieter. It was still there though, weird and uncomfortable, like a giant elephant had just squeezed into our booth. So I decided to do something to bring reconciliation to the situation.
I took my card up to the bar and got the waiter over and asked him to put the lady's lunch on my card. He was kind of shocked like, really? are you sure? why? and I was like, yes, really, I don't know, I want to do it. He apologized for what had happened, that she had just made a comment like, if they keep talking about religion I'm not going to stick around. A bit innocuous, maybe it was just an offhand comment, maybe he agreed with her and didn't want to listen to us yakking about church rites and theology. Either way, I put my card down and went to the bathroom. I signed for it when I came back, and I left the waiter a good tip because I knew he felt really bad about the whole situation too. What he said hadn't quite come out right and maybe he just wasn't totally thinking about the situation before he came over and said something. Who knows what's going on in his life anyway, but I wanted him to know that it was okay.
I'm pretty sure the waiter told her what happened when she asked for her check because I saw her glance over at our table with a surprised look on her face before she left. I wish this woman well, and I hope that she can reconcile whatever feelings she may have about the church that made her make the comment in the first place. I know that religion is a tough topic for a lot of people; I am extremely fortunate in that I have had overwhelmingly positive experiences with the church. But I know I am lucky and I wish more people were.
A little while after she left we all went our separate ways. I went to meet up with a few people for a birthday dinner at Bucca di Beppo, an Italian place near the hotel. It was so yummy! I left with a full heart and a full stomach.
There seems to be some kind of bug going around the Convention, and one of our attendees had to go to the hospital earlier today. She is doing better now but I went with another girl from the Diocese of TN, Rachel, to pick her and P'tricia (member of our amazing design team) up from the hospital. We made it back in time to attend Compline though, which was good since I was slated to be a reader!
Compline has been a truly beautiful and peaceful time here at the convention. Our musicians from the Church of the Apostles in Seattle are A-MAZING. They have a beautiful blend of traditional music with modern twists. I love it. You should all rush over to their website and buy their stuff because it's amazing. And you know if I am going on about their music then it's gotta be great since rarely do I get super excited about buying music. They even sang me happy birthday!!
All in all, a fantastic day. I'm excited for another great day here in General Convention tomorrow but I'm sad that soon I will have to leave. But, I do not leave empty handed!! I have so many awesome new relationships with incredible people, I have met several of my Episcopal Heroes, not to mention all the swag from the exhibit hall!
Most of all though, I leave with a renewed spirit and energy of service to God and to this amazing, messy, wonderful, crazy Church.
Grace & Peace,