written Saturday, July 10, 2010
Well, General Assembly has concluded its business sessions, the final worship service was held and our group of commissioners has scattered. It was almost eerie, the speed with which everyone cleared out, retrieving stored luggage and boarding the buses for the airport. I was able to finally share a meal with my brother and sister-in-law, after only being able to sort of hug them in passing during this week. In an unexpected way, I think we were all sort of sad to see it end. And it reminded me of the countless retreats and summer church camps I attended as a youth in Birmingham - - perhaps due in part to seeing a couple of folks who were also at those camps!! But now that I’m at the airport, at loose ends for a little while until my plane actually boards and heads back to Virginia, I’m noticing some of the emotion has given way to a sort of nostalgia. A wistfulness, perhaps.
My brother, who has attended a lot of General Assemblies over the years, said that this one was among the best, if not THE best he has ever attended or heard about. Over lunch, he shared some of the behind the scenes stuff that goes on at these events, that contribute to the make up of the positions taken by some of the factions - - and no, I’m not going to share them here in this forum. Gradye Parsons quipped that he was considering writing all of the 173 presbyteries to request that the same commissioners and delegates be sent to Pittsburgh in 2012. Our moderator and vice-moderator were just spot-on when items were potentially getting contentious or perhaps worse, repetitious. And when we were disrupted by a protest group, Moderator Bolbach reacted perfectly. So many divergent factors combined to bring about the right decisions at the right times, that I cannot think that it was anything but the Holy Spirit working through all the hands that worked to make this event happen.
The names are entirely too numerous to list. They begin, of course, years in advance, and in the office of the General Assembly. GA staff works with the Committee on Local Arrangements, or COLA. And, oh, what a COLA we had! From the moment I emerged from the aircraft, made it to the baggage claims area, these volunteers were there en masse to assist us in finding our way through the airport which, for me, was unfamiliar. My fellow passengers and I were escorted through the hallways, to the tram and out to the buses; today, the process was essentially reversed, with the friendly folks wearing smocks with the Presbyterian Seal on the front and back and always, always a smile right there to bid us safe journeys. I could go on and on.
Of course, in a scant few hours, I will be on the ground back in Virginia. I’ll be reunited with my husband, and eventually, our dogs. I hope to attend church in Warrenton tomorrow and I’ll go about various and sundry chores. I’ll return to work this week, catching up with the goings on that occurred while I was away. I’ll need to write a report about the week, it’s events and my experiences. I can say now that I want to be more ecumenical and open to other faiths; I can say I need to confront my fears on certain issues, and perhaps my prejudices with others. And I can say that I want to go back again, and hope to have the opportunity again before too long.