Thursday, July 10, 2014

River of Life: EYE 14 (Post 2)

Our opening Eucharist was blessed by the preaching of Stephanie Spellers, and it was a sermon graced by the spiritual hymn 'I've Got a River of Life'.    I have a river of life, with it the lame can walk and the blind can see.  She told us of how for her when she was young the church wasn't something she percieved as focused on mission or healing.  However the church that we are practicing at EYE14 is focused on nothing else.  The mission of proclomation, justice and healing is the river that flows through out of our life together.
Philadelphia is a city that is defined by a river.   It goes without saying that Philadelphia is along way from eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, yet our diocese is also strongly defined by its rivers.  The rivers that flow out of our home fill breadbaskets and fruit baskets far and wide.
One of the most obvious differences is that in the Episcopal diocese of Spokane, 125 years is super old.  Here that isn't very old at all.  Buildings of old stone evoke awe and wonder.  The weather is also quite different, if also good for this place in July.  I have been told that I am the only one of our team who thinks the weather is lovely (my hands look less like raisins!).    Some of our crew are finding the humidity difficult, declaring that their skin is sticking to itself and hovering inside while a malfunctioning security alarm sounds.   I have refrained from suggesting that this is nothing compared to DC or Mississippi.

On Wednesday we made our way from the Germantown neighborhood over to EYE and Villanova with a few minor glitches.  To begin our day we woke up a bit late, but certainly not on a Pacific schedule.  This was more of a challenge given our late late night arrival.  For our first night we rested in triple Decker brand new bunks at the Episcopal Mission Center which is housed at St. Luke's in Germantown.  I cannot offer enough praise for the fine welcome and amazing work they do at the Episcopal Mission Center.  Based on the recommendations of a friend we headed out for the Little Jimmies that appeared on our smart phone.  We walked quite a ways in the morning ing he s t before we found it.  Part of the reason for the morning ing breakfast trek was to help acclimate our crew to the local weather.  It was a long walk and we filled Little Jimmies with our fourteen bodies.  We pushed the capacity so far th as t the shopkeeper called for reinforcements.  Who then told us that there was a s another larger location much closer to our digs.  Oops.

Refreshed by our meal we walked back with more energy, and headed out toward the train.  The region had experienced huge storms the day we arrived (hence part of our delay).  Widespread damage and power outages were confusing systems.  And a power line had fallen over a train track.  Leading to no trains.  Which we learned after climbing the stairs with our luggage.  Eventually we were able to arrange for three cabs to come and get us and take us to the EYE14 site.  Now if only they had all known how to get to Villanova!

We did make it to our destination and we were right on time for the start of check in.  Since then we have been going almost non stop (except for sleep).  We are in a dorm with folks from the dioceses of Hawaii, Maryland, San Diego, California and Rio Grande to name a few.  Participants are spending lots of time exchanging trinkets and playing frisbee between our sessions.  Last night includes big games on a field and a Frozen song along in the on campus theatre.  Then was evening worship and snacks.  Today we celebrated a fantastic Eucharist, took a group photo and have now begin our workshops.  There in an excellent article on The Episcopal Digital Network with more about what we are doing.

One of my favorite things about facebook is the river of life, the river of my life, that flows along on my 'wall'.  The lives of school friends and 'grown kids' mix with colleagues and family.  I find it to be a beautiful babbling brook of who I am and where I have been.  However, this is much better than my fb wall.  EYE so far has been a river of living life, of hugs and high fives in person with the folks who usually only pass by.  To hug my goddaughter, to be lifted high by an old friend, to hear my name shouted..OMG Jane!  It is a blessing of its own.  This is a river of life...where shall we take it from here?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Philadelphia freedom via Vegas....EYE14

Southwest airlines can be occasionally silly and generally high energy,  all of which can make it seem like the youth group of the airlines.   This observation is particularly evident with the icebreaker style boarding process.  If you have not been on a Southwest flight recently this might need an explanation.  Every passenger is given a boarding group letter, and a number.  Each letter group has to line up in numerical order, which demands that passengers TALK to one another.  It requires a civility, attentiveness and connectivity not unlike our life together in Christ.
Once on board you then get to choose from any open seat, also like church life, and a real benefit to flying with a fourteen person group of young people and chaperones to the Episcopal Youth Event.   The plane was nearly full as we soared through the first leg toward Vegas on our way to Philadelphia.  One of our eleven teens had never flown before.  After gleeful loud expressions during takeoff she declared that she "loves flying"!  Some slept, some read and most caught up or made new friends.  Our youth crew includes folks from Cleelum, Walla Walla, Richland, Coeur d Alene and Spokane.  One young woman, Berkeley, was with the last EYE group in 2011, and most of our crew have been active at Camp Cross and our diocesan youth programs like New Beginnings and TEC.  Our adult chaperones are from Richland, Spokane and Walla Walla.  Patrick attended a previous EYE as a teen, Jane has served with the Official Youth Presence at General Convention, while Theresa is new to church wide youth events.  We are flying east the day before EYE begins because as many of us know it takes all day to get from here to there.  We are spending our first night at the Episcopal Mission Center in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia.  Or at least that is the plan, flight delays may put gum in our plans.  Then on Wednesday morning we will use mass transit to journey out to Villanova University, where EYE 14 is being held.
More for y'all when we have new adventures to share.