Monday, November 15, 2010


Today, I arrived at Union PSCE in Richmond, VA for a week-long interim ministry training event.   The folks here are quite congenial, although I realized during one of the get-ta-know-ya exercises that I am a serious noob.  There are folks taking this course who were ordained as pastors when I was five years old.  When we lined up by "years ordained," I was waaaay over on the neophyte side of things.  At over 40 years old, it is only in the Presbyterian church that I can still feel like a kid.  Sigh.  Then again, someone here actually expressed surprise that I wasn't in my twenties.  That sort of comment is increasingly gratifying, although it's probably more an indication of someone needing to visit the opthamologist than anything else.

I am so blessedly consistent at conferences.  Ever since I've been a professional, I've felt compelled to wander off when I show up for a training or a conference or a seminar.  Rather than hanging around and schmoozing, which would probably be the career-ladder prudent thing to do, I tend to go off on walkabout.

Not during the event itself, mind you.  My Scots blood is too cheap to waste money that's been paid out for an event.  But whenever I encounter a new place, I feel this odd yearning to explore.

I've enjoyed folks company so far, but when it came time to eat, I just sort of...well...drifted off.  It's not very social of me.  Some of it is my introversion.  I'm just a shy laddie.

But another part of me hungers to just wander around.  To taste the strangeness of a place I've never seen.  After snarfing down some veggie-friendly and cheap Subway grub, I did a bit of sermon prep work, spent some time in prayer, and then left my room to meander about the grounds of the seminary for a while.  I explored a dorm.  I hunted, unsuccessfully, for the weight room that I've been told hides somewhere here on campus.  I contemplated the large Hogwarts-esque library, which I'll likely check out tomorrow.

Mostly, though, I just sopped in homes and streets that are filled with strange sweetness of the South, that peculiar feeling of still gentility and decay.  Around the seminary as dusk fell, it just felt very quiet.  At night, as I walked through the lantern-lit center of the small campus, leaves fell like rustling gold around me.

Things like that you just don't want to miss.