Oooh, it's snowing on the Plateau! Snowing and snowing! It has been snowing for just about 24 hours straight, without stopping. Today it's very light snow, like powdered sugar -- but non-stop, nevertheless. It's exciting! Everything is closed, almost, and everything that can be cancelled in this part of the world, has been.
Brrr. The wind is blowing, too, and the temperature is 13F. Not quite a blustery day, but close. You can see I've been out with the snow shovel; I've also been over to my office (all of about 200 feet away). Earlier this morning I even took the car out for a quick trip to the grocery store; but mostly I'm staying inside and cozy today, doing some work from home, taking it very easy and enjoying the day off that everyone else is getting.
I'm thinking about a conference that I attended in October in Mississippi, one that I never took the opportunity to tell you about. It's called CREDO, and is sponsored by the national Episcopal Church for active clergy (and also for full time lay professionals in the church). This was my second CREDO conference, the last being 8 years ago. CREDO stands for "Clergy Reflection, Education, and Discernment Opportunity." It's a wonderful way that the church has developed to take care of its clergy. We were at the Gray Episcopal Camp and Conference Center near Jackson, Mississippi, and it was for priests who all attended a previous CREDO, and who are roughly the same age and years of experience. It lasted 7 days. It was a great opportunity to reflect on where I've come, where I am now, and where I still want to go in my career and in my life. They fed us well, gave us lots of information and food for thought, and assigned us to small groups where we could discuss our ongoing reflection and goal-setting. Before we went, we were to have a physical exam and complete a health profile, fill out some (absolutely confidential) financial and vocational worksheets, and ask several people from our work life to fill out surveys about us. This gave us some really valuable baseline information to contribute to the week's work, as well.
Here are some shots of the place we stayed:
This is what I saw out my bedroom window every morning -- mist rising over the lake. Ethereally beautiful.
This is the labyrinth (with my shadow cast across it) where we could walk and meditate as we pondered our lives.
And this is the chapel where we worshipped daily. The weather was perfect, perhaps just a bit too warm a couple of days, but we wore shorts and t-shirts most of the time. The camp, located across the road from our section, had a swimming pool for our use, as well.
One evening, we went into Jackson for a nice dinner out. The street where we ate still had the facades on the buildings that were used when "The Help" was filmed. If you haven't read that book, you must. I loved it. Here are a couple of shots of the fun storefronts from the early 1960s:
You can't see what's playing at the Capri, but it's "Cleopatra," with Elizabeth Taylor.
It looks a lot like the streets of the town where I grew up. Same era, too.
On the way home I went to see Graceland. But I'll have to share those pictures and related reflections another time.
At the end of the conference, most of us had detailed goals and plans completed. One of my biggest realizations from the conference is how isolated I've become here in my little corner of the world. Little by little, this corner has, in fact, become littler. I've become more and more alone, and it was all so gradual that I didn't even notice it. I found excuses not to go out and be with people, as the little corner became very comfortable. But God said, "It is not good for Adam (humankind -- not a man's name) to be alone." And it's true. So I've been making real efforts to incorporate other people into my life and activities. Some of that is blogging here. Some is about being in better touch with friends and family who are distant, and also with friends close at hand -- as well as seeking out new friends. It has involved a little effort, a little stepping outside my comfort zone again. We introverts can play alone very happily in our little corners, but we need others, just like the extroverts do.
Something I've noticed, since I recognized my own isolation, is that now I feel lonelier. I think I kept those feelings locked up for a long, long time. But sometimes I miss the people I love so much that I cry. Eventually I think I'll be looking for employment that will bring me closer to those who have known me my whole life, or close to it. It's funny how they all are more and more important, the older I get. When I was a kid, or even up to middle age, I could flit off on my own adventures that took me far away: Moving from Indiana to Buffalo, then off to Connecticut to seminary, then down here to the Plateau and this lovely little church. But as I get older, and now especially that I've unlocked my lonely heart, being close to the old, good friends, and family who has known me my whole life, seems more and more important.
I'm eager to see how this new awareness unfolds in my life; it feels as though I've set off on another leg of my journey.
Everyone stay warm and dry, you hear now?