This conference is the 230th such conference organized by the Episcopal Church Pension Fund; it promises (as did my first CREDO in 2003) to urge, persuade, cajole, encourage me to reflect on four basic elements of my life as person and as priest - health, spirituality, vocation and finance. I want, surely as we all do, to have this present life enriched as much as possible - available to be blessed by God and to be available for blessing for others. Of course with retirement in some five years or so, I am wanting to begin a thoughtful and prayerful journey that will lead to a fulfilled and fulfilling time after full-time work - as we all do, surely.
Of course that this time is spent in the presence of some other thirty priests has its unique challenges and, I hope, opportunities.
It is a challenge for those most expected to initiate conversations, to project and to perform - it is difficult for such to let go and the psychic trappings of priesthood be laid aside to discover afresh the joy and privilege of being served, of being approached, of being "ministered unto".
Not always easy - it's already a little frustrating to note how some voices are particularly conspicuous in the reading of psalms; how some feel it necessary (or inevitable) to lead the pace rather than discover the pace. How grateful I am for the choir director who, 47 years ago, taught me, "Alan, if you cannot hear the person next to you singing in the choir, you're singing too loud". And the same applies to reading liturgy and prayers and psalms...
Though - at the airport, standing with the group ready to leave, a woman walked by me, slowed down and, for some reason, said "Do I know you?". Immediately years of standing at church doors after service kicked in and I moved effortlessly (and thoughtlessly) into "greeting mode" It was ok but it was a lesson upon which I almost immediately reflected.
So there it is... day one, seven to go!