Last week, I flew to San Francisco for UNCO (the unconference, a gathering of church leaders) at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Have you ever been to a conference and felt like the most powerful part is the side conversations that happen in between the scheduled speakers and events? UNCO takes that concept and creates an entire gathering around those conversations, where we get to discuss what is most necessary for us in our calls and lives as church leaders. Throw in creative worship (where coloring is encouraged) and lots of social media (that actually brings people together!), and you have UNCO. It was a delight, and stirred a creativity in me that needed to be awoken once more. Naturally, I took a ridiculous amount of pictures during the past week, and naturally, I wanted to share them here. So, grab the nearest fedora, my friends, and let’s take a wee jaunt to California, shall we?
A sign of good things to come (see the rainbow)?
Worship included U2, Mumford and Sons and ancient Irish tunes, among others. And yes, that is a live Twitter feed on the other screen. Like I said, technology was used in an incredibly constructive way.
Met Indy and Yoda, I did.
More UNCO time, including a discussion on writing and publishing for those of us who feel very strongly about usage of the Oxford comma, among other things. What an inspiring room of people. We’re going to write monthly blog reflections on a common theme (called UncoSyncro), so watch this space, y’all.
Then, we hopped in our red mustang (oh yes, there was a red mustang — again with the showing off, CA!) and ventured to wine country to sip some salivating local wines, and bask in the sunlight of stunning vineyards. Basically, I was in heaven.
Now, my friends, this was the most magical part of our entire trip: a visit to the Muir Woods. I’ve longed to go on a pilgrimage to these ancient towering trees, and felt a deep wisdom and spirituality there. I truly believe that trees are essential to my faith in God.
One final jaunt around San Francisco the morning we flew out, and I had to bid goodbye (for now) to that showy California. I’m so grateful for my time there, for old friends and new, for laughter and time to simply savor the unexpected treasures that appear on a sidewalk you’ve never walked upon before, or in food you’ve never tasted before, or innovative and relaxed worship you’ve never participated in before. I left feeling completely myself, which is I suppose the best any of us could hope for.
I learned while there that my Mother’s cousin Richard passed away suddenly. What a loss. And then a few days later, his father Jimmy passed away as well. So, if you are the praying sort, please send a little light to my Aunt Martha and my family. Life is so short — there is never enough time to hug all the trees or taste all it has to offer. But there is time enough to explore, to revel in everyday grace and to connect with other human beings in ways that never really die. For that, and for wonderful memories, and for Richard and Uncle Jimmy who savored life with the most extraordinary passion, I am grateful. And I hope, in my own small way, to be something like them. For like old redwood trees with deep-running roots and so very many stories to tell, they were giants. They will be missed.