Blog post #2 from convention! Would you believe that I’m on the bathroom floor at 5 a.m. again? I thought about heading down to the breakfast area for some coffee, but I’d hate to be gone if the girls start waking up in our room. Of course, it was a 4 a.m. wake-up by Oldest Daughter that got this day started for me. She’s back to sleep, but I’m enjoying the smell of chlorine as our swimsuits dry out. Ok – perhaps too much sarcastic information. Anyway… I’m going to be sleepy by the time the Goshen College alumni get-together rolls around tonight at 9:30.
I had a good day yesterday. In the morning worship service, Jim Schrag addressed the interesting tension that exists for people who want to strive for consensus within a church body (of whatever size), but who also feel the wind of the Holy Spirit blowing in a new direction and who want to go with that. I relate to feeling that tension.
I had fun serving as tour guide for a while for some friends who are at convention for the first time. They didn’t realize that it would be quite so large. 🙂
I took in one seminar in the afternoon related to teaching spirituality in young children. My scientific brain was glad to hear a concrete approach to relating to children – especially in the context of conflict. (Much of what was said I knew somewhere in my heart, but I like to have nice orderly accounts filed away in my mind, as well.) For example, we need to model for them the kind of peacemaker that we’d like them to become. We need to provide them with the words and language to articulate their needs. And then, the seminar was interrupted when someone in West Virginia called a wrong number which happened to belong to our family’s cell phone. I spent the afternoon worrying that someone was trying to reach me (perhaps one of the people doing children’s activities with my daughters?). But last night I did a reverse whitepages lookup and concluded that it was just a fluke.
The last part of the afternoon, I did childcare with Youngest Daughter. We spent most of the time in the Little Mennos play area near the exhibit hall. They’ve got a slide and a bouncy ball pit and some hula hoops and other toys, and we had a fun time.
Supper (banana and Nutella crepes!) was followed by some family swimming time, and then I had evening childcare responsibilities. Ordinary Spouse attended a seminar hosted by Sharon Waltner on maintaining dialogue despite disagreement on the place of lgbt persons in the Church. I hear that it was good seminar.
Finally, we got today’s schedule planned. A big thank-you is in order for the Extraordinary Mother-in-law, who is willing to do some childcare later today so that both Ordinary Spouse and I can go to seminars of interest.
I love Convention. I love how I can run into people that I haven’t seen in years, and stand around and chat like we’re getting caught up on the last day or two. I love having something in common with nearly anyone here. I love sitting down to eat in the morning and finding out that the person eating the Hampton Inn continental breakfast beside you is practically your neighbor. I love the Mennonite game.
I’m not entirely sure why I feel so affectionately toward Mennonites. Partly, I think it must be my interest in genealogy. My family tree is Mennonite all over the place. I’ve even got a relative in the Martyr’s Mirror. Partly, I thank my parents. They demonstrated church involvement at all levels (local, conference, and national) as I was growing up.
But to be quite honest, I’m a bit bothered by how much I love the Mennonite Church. I ask myself if perhaps, just maybe, it’s borderline idolatry. Could it be that I’m more concerned with the denomination than I am with the Church? Even worse, could it be that I love the cultural heritage more than the spiritual heritage?*
* At the Goshen College booth in the exhibit hall, I picked up a patch that says, “Making peace with whoopie pies”. It might mean, “Using whoopie pies to make peace”, but it could also mean “Making peace with your heritage, as exemplified by whoopie pies”. Perhaps it means both at the same time.
Anyway, I expressed this concern to Ordinary, Yet Insightful, Spouse, who said that perhaps it is precisely my love for the Mennonite Church that helps me stick with it during times of adversity. I hadn’t thought about it that way before and was thankful for her wisdom. I’m still uneasy, but I can live with it. Especially when served with shoofly pie.