Day is done. I rest now in the quiet of my hotel room. I spent most of my morning and afternoon connecting with old friends, and making new ones. I love it. I received some hugs. Lots of handshakes. Smiles, conversation, and promises to connect again tomorrow. For me, The Northwest Ministry Conference is a bit like a family reunion. I reconnect with people I care deeply about, and I get to meet new people, sparking new friendships. Attendance is worthwhile for that reason alone. My networking prevented me from taking in any workshops today. I am okay with that, although there were one or two I had hoped to see.
As people asked me about my present ministry assignment, I faced the inevitable awkwardness of telling them I really have no assignment due to my recent resignation from my former church. In a way, I am homeless as it pertains to an ecclesial home, notwithstanding my regular attendance at a local church.
I am accustomed to being at this conference in the role of a speaker and exhibitor, representing a ministry. There is a confidence which comes from being grounded in a faith community. Now there is a sense of aimlessness. I feel like an arrow which has been shot from the bow, but with no idea of how to find my target. To be sure, I understand that I am rooted in Christ, established in his love in the body of Christ. I lack a local connection to his body, however. Merely attending a church service weekly does not fulfill the need for deep, meaningful connection.
There is a temptation to revert to my default ascetic ways. Solitude. Private meditation. Very little community. Oh, who am I kidding? I am doing it now, notwithstanding my time in the midst of 3,500 people at the conference. Solitude is a solace for my soul, a healing balm in proper moderation. In excess, it is poison. For we all need to love, and to be loved. This is true even those like me who might have preferred the monastic life, given the opportunity.
And so I rest. And I think. I worship the Lord in the quiet, not ashamed of these tears he gave me to heal the open wounds in my heart.