Friday, July 3, 2015

GC78- The Last Day - What We Leave Behind

One of the reasons I am an Episcopalian is that I get and need ritual as a part of my daily life. My morning routines are practically liturgical at home, and the hardest thing for me about being on the road is to have those routines, especially my morning routines, disrupted.

At home I never get my coffee out. I have two (not one nor three, but two) cups of coffee at home as each new day begins. On the road, although I prefer Peet's (which tends to be harder to find) it is generally likely that I end up at Starbucks for my daily caffeine fix. Being away for nearly two weeks, I've found myself developing new patterns. But, enough about my issues and on to the point of this blog...

This morning when I walked to Starbucks to get my large dark roast with room for cream and sugar - I had a conversation with the woman who served me my coffee that began with these words: "we are going to miss having you Episcopalians in town."

Now she may have just been being polite. But for these past eleven or twelve days, we Episcopalians have infiltrated the downtown area of Salt Lake City, which otherwise seems mostly devoid of residents. The hotels, restaurants, cabs, have been dominated by our presence. And she said she will be sorry to see us go, which sure beats the alternative: I can't wait for those people to leave town!

I grew up in a resort area in northeast Pennsylvania. While I've since come to learn that not all people from New York and New Jersey are rude, growing up I must confess that most of us locals were glad when Labor Day came around and we got our town back; although most people also knew that we couldn't have survived economically without the tourists. So it was a complex symbiotic relationship. I spent those years mostly working in restaurants and sometimes (in fact too often!)  our out-of-state guests were obnoxious and had unrealistic expectations of us.They sometimes acted like they owned the place.

The Episcopal Church recommends that at these kinds of events we leave $5/day for the hotel maids. I believe that every member of my deputation has taken this to heart and I hope that every Episcopalian here has done so. I hope that when we leave they are sad to see us go. I hope that we have all treated our servers and waitstaff and cab drivers over these two weeks with the "dignity and respect" we promise to offer whenever we renew our commitment to the Baptismal Covenant - and that we have shown generosity to them, and that they will be sad to see us go.

We have been about important work at the 78th General Convention. We have passed significant legislation that we now have to live into. But how we behave, how we relate to our neighbors as their guests, in their city is just as important a measure of our values as any resolution passed. My hope and prayer is that they have known we are Christians by our love, by our love. My hope is that when they go home at the end of the day, they will say to their own households at their own dinner tables - I'm really sad to see those people go.

As for me, however, I'll admit it - while our hosts have been gracious, there is no place like home! I can't wait to sleep in my own bed again, and return to my normal routines.

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