Saturday, October 25, 2008


[Note: After posting this last night, I've made some significant additions and done some minor edits. Apologies to those of you who may see this as a "new" posting on your RSS feeds.]

Despite all my anxieties about travel logistics and about the content of the trip, I had a marvelous time in New York.

My arrival was not fortuitous. I arrived at LaGuardia about 11:15p.m. Tuesday. Because I wanted to be as economical as possible, I opted for the "cattle car" [aka "supershuttle"] for $16 instead of a cab into midtown Manhattan. The dang driver didn't know where my hotel was ... so instead of dropping me off first (as had been the plan), he drove all over lower Manhattan and midtown, dropping off the other 8 occupants ... while I was on my cell phone trying to roust somebody who might still be awake and able to Google the hotel to get me an address. Sheesh!! I finally got to the hotel sometime after 1:00am. Thank God for the all-night markets in the neighborhood! I was able to walk a couple of blocks and find some food and a 6-pack.

I spent Wednesday in a strategic planning session about how TEC dioceses and the whole church can support the Episcopal Church of Sudan. The meeting was held at the Episcopal Church Center (a.k.a. "815"). This was my first time to be there. I'll admit: I felt a bit of a thrill to visit the "nerve center" of our church. Compared to the glitzy buildings nearby, it's not very impressive. Our meeting room was pleasant, but modest. After the meeting, I visited a staff member in one of the divisions, and found that office space similarly pleasant but modest. I certainly saw no evidence of the excesses with which some of our Worthy Opponents like to paint the Church Center.

As I've mentioned before, my bishop asked me to be his representative in this meeting. About half the participants were folks like me: representatives of dioceses in relationship with Sudanese dioceses, parishes, and schools (including the dioceses of Bethlehem, Chicago, Southwest Virginia, Virginia) and Duke/VTS . The other half were national representatives: UTO, ERD, TEC's governmental affairs office, Trinity Wall Street, and AFRECS. Bishop Frank Gray (recently appointed commissary of the Sudanese Archbishop to TEC) served as chair/facilitator in the meeting. (By the bye, AFRECS has a fine profile of Bishop Gray and his role here, in their current magazine. Bandwidth alert: It's on page 11 of a 6MB PDF file.)

I didn't know how much to expect of that meeting, but I was very pleased with it. I don't know that we exactly "accomplished" much, but I believe we laid some building blocks to accomplish things in the future. I was happy to learn what other dioceses are doing in their companion relationships, as I think it can help inform ours in Missouri. And I was astonished to hear about some things happening at the national and international levels, in which I think we can connect.

I was gratified that many folks around that table were impressed at what we in Missouri are doing. Several said they had no idea we were engaged in so many ventures in Lui. Some remarked that we seem to have one of the more well-organized, focused companion diocese relationships they've heard of. It was gratifying to hear that.

Here's a strictly personal observation: In my professional career, I used to be "at the table" when important, national, strategic discussions were occurring in the field of library/archives preservation. But, since coming to my position in Missouri, I've not been allowed to be involved at the national level in my profession. It was very fun to help advance this group's agenda and to think globally in my church role. That wide thinking and strategizing is something I have missed. I hope I was helpful.

This is rather funny: I spent Monday-Tuesday in a strategic planning meeting with the State Archives [my day job]. Then Wednesday was spent in strategic planning about how the Episcopal Church can relate to the Episcopal Church in Sudan. I can assure you that Wednesday's meeting was more delightful than the earlier one. It almost makes me believe I haven't really lost the gifts I once believed I had.

Wednesday evening was reserved for dinner with a couple of people with whom I had e-corresponded since 2003 but had never met in person. You know how it is? You e-mail with folks, but you don't know what it will be like to meet them In Real Life. My IRL dinner with J&S was beyond my hopes! We had a marvelous evening of much laughter and much intense conversation. I could not have hoped for more!

I was able to spend a bit of time in Manhattan on Thursday before my flight home. I walked and walked and walked – just taking in the sights and sounds of the city. I had breakfast in a delightful (and delightfully inexpensive!) diner near Church Center. I wanted to make it down to Trinity Wall Street, but realized I didn't have time or navigational skills to do so. So I just walked the streets of midtown Manhattan. I walked to crazy Times Square, down 42nd Street, which I had seen aglow on the cab ride the night before. En route, I paused a while in Bryant Park (adjacent to the NY Public Library) to take in the sights and sounds of the city, absorb the sun on a chilly day, and read a book for a while. I had a funny moment walking up 5th Avenue, where I was on a bit of a rise, and realized what a horde of humanity was on the street in front of me. I'd venture to guess there were more people on 5th Avenue at that moment than live in my town.

I stumbled upon Rockefeller Plaza, where I was finally motivated to grab my digital camera, and shot this photo before the batteries in the camera and my back-up batteries failed me. (It was early afternoon, but I suppose the failing batteries make it look like evening.)

With my time running out, I headed south on Madison Avenue, where I was able to fulfill my sister's wish that I find a particular gift for her husband. … Then back to the hotel, where I reclaimed my bag, then headed to LaGuardia and flew home again.

When I arrived home, it kinda blew my mind that 7 hours earlier I had been walking the streets of Manhattan … and now here I was back in this small town. The mind boggles!


Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

I am glad it all went well for you. Sounds like you recognized your nerve had not left you, too!

I also did not realize you worked at the state archives--kewl! My 15 minutes of fame in archival history is that I donated all my medical school notes from the first two years of medical school (including the "noteservice" notes, which often included smart-ass asides about the profs) to the Western Historical Manuscript Collection. The archivist was thrilled because they had nothing on the MU medical curriculum in the 1980's.

But anyway, I'm glad it all worked out for you and I know the bishop will be pleased!

10/25/2008 10:59 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Kirkepiscatoid, the recovery of my "nerve" was perhaps the most important discovery of this whole trip.

Cool indeed to hear about your connection with the WHMC!

10/25/2008 11:05 PM  

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