Friday Five!

1. Describe a memorable conference, retreat, workshop or convention you've attended.
A three-day retreat on spirituality and sexuality that was held in a wonderful remodelled cottage in the mountains of North Carolina. It was small (9 of us) and I was the only woman, but we learned so much from each other, connected on so many levels, that I know if I ever meet any of the other participants again, we will pick up right where we left off. One of those weekends you don’t want to have end.

2. Tell us about a memorable speaker or preacher you've heard.
One of my seminary colleagues, with whom I had a preaching class, always blew me away. He was able to cover the important bases, touch on other issues just enough to clear them up, never skipped over difficult issues, was always pastoral, and did it all in a way that was engaging and thoughtful. He didn’t mix metaphors or change themes in the middle of the sermon. Needless to say, all of us were very grateful the course was not graded on a curve!

At a conference/workshop, the best was a sermon on AIDS, given by an HIV+ man. He was passionate, honest, and clear in his call for justice, without self-pity or bathos. One of the most touching moments was when he called on all the men to thank the women (lesbians, bisexual, and straight) for their care, their support, and their hard work on behalf of their HIV+ brothers, He made the men applaud for a whole minute. “Make some noise, boys,” he said. “They took care of us. We need to show them we know it and thank them. Make some noise!” His theology and understanding of the depth of God’s love and care was so rich and full, it made me ashamed of my understanding. His sermon has affected almost every sermon I have written since.

3. Do you attend all of the scheduled events, or play hooky? If the latter, what do you do with your free time?
Oh, I usually take an afternoon or so off if I can. Especially when it’s a week-long conference, you really need some down-time from the workshops and meetings and networking. I like to visit whatever makes the city/town a tourist attraction—and everyplace has something! I also like to wander around the area a bit—just to get a flavour for the place. And I try to eat out away from the conference—another way to take a break and pace myself. But I always attend the opening and closing session, the social events, and the worship events.

4. Do you like having a roommate or would you rather have a room to yourself?That really depends on the roommate! If it’s DP, no problem, of course! Otherwise, it would have to be someone who a) didn’t mind my snoring; b)was fairly independent (i.e., wouldn’t need to do everything with me, but could go off on his or her own); c) wasn’t noisy if/when s/he came in at 3 am.

On a retreat, though, I do prefer my own room (again, except for DP), just because I may want to write or pray or meditate at any and all hours, and I don’t want to disturb someone.

5. What's the most exotic location you've conferenced or retreated?
Let’s see: Dallas, Provincetown, near Asheville, Washington, DC (several locations), Puerto Rico, Michigan woods. I guess Puerto Rico—which was beautiful and wonderful! Not only was the conference great, but the seafood was awesome, the people friendly, the weather gorgeous, and the part of town we stayed in (the Old Town) lovely.

Edited to add: I don't know where my brain was. Of course the Puerto Rico retreat was in San Juan, not all over all of Puerto Rico...

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