I was at conference this week.
It occurs to me as I write this, that the language is odd. I wasn't at "a" conference. I "went to conference". It's what we all say. It's the business conference for my district, in my denomination. Voting, reports, sandwiches. Many, many pastors, all in one room.
I don't usually make it through the whole thing. I get twitchy sitting in business sessions. After all, there's so much work waiting in my office, only 15 minutes away. And does my "aye" really matter? Plus, we're a restless bunch. We're all used to being up there on the platform, leading things. It's weird to sit and listen, and be among other pastors while we all sit and listen. So there's an undercurrent of chatting and twitching and texting that probably drives the conference leaders crazy. It would drive me crazy.
But I'll admit I chuckled at inappropriate moments as texts and FB messages silently came through on my phone.
Anyway, I stayed for the whole thing this time. Mostly because I was on a committee that ran around distributing things and counting things. So there was less opportunity for fidgeting. More opportunity for catching up with friends on the same committee while we did our assigned jobs.
One of them I had only known from afar, but he knew Spike, long ago. And he's hilarious. Turns out he pastors in the tiny little town I was born in. I remember my toddler sister leaning on a still-wet freshly-painted wall in the "new" church building there that is now ... well, let's just say it's not new anymore.
A couple of them were in the same class, same school as me. I cried laughing at one guy's story of rushing late into 3 classes in a row, realizing each time that he had rushed into the wrong class. Turns out he actually had a spare at that time.
Exchanged confessions of long-ago anxieties with another one - each of us secretly intimidated by the other in school. We decided to move past it, 20 years later, and just be friends.
Other conversations happened, fun ones, meaningful ones. Met friends of friends. And we all chuckled with relief as the main speaker - speaking to a room of speakers - entirely and openly messed up an illustration. Because we've all done it. And it's nice to know that can happen to an Important Dude too.
By the end, I was done. I went home and ate a sandwich alone, before heading to the office to catch up on work.
Glad I went.