This programme is what some call packly tight. So I haven’t had more than a moment to find out from the blogs and websites about the Conference which I am supposed to be experiencing.
It seems to me that the atmosphere is warm and friendly. I can do gregarious when I need to. But by the end of yesterday, I was contemplating the tee-shirt which said, ‘No more networking today.’ The encounters are fascinating. The journalists who are looking for stories could stop almost any participant here at random and find that they have an extraordinary story to tell. I have a feeling that the spouses may well be even more diverse and interesting than the bishops. After all, they chose a partner but perhaps not this extraordinary way of life. Yes there clearly is a need to ensure that the Conference addresses difficult issues – but most conferences are a sprint. This is a marathon.
I look at the bishops – out of their context and, in many cases, casually dressed. I wonder if I can discern something which this strange breed of people has in common. They are all hard workers. Many of them are tired. They are idealists but they spend a lot of time managing conflicting demands with limited resources. In many cases, they face extraordinary and dangerous situations. They can be isolated to the point of lonely.
But they are not the area managers of some global conglomerate coming to Head Office for a pep talk. They are faith leaders of autonomous churches. And that is why this Conference is beginning by investing time in the inward spiritual journey and in relationships. What we need to do demands more than politics and votes.
Two other things ..
The Lord’s Prayer said by each in their own language is unbearably moving.
The bedroom furniture situation continues to be a matter of some interest. We have now received two billets doux on our pillows from the management. The beds may have moved but they are unmoved.