I used to be a GA junkie. For those of you not in the alphabet-soup "know" of Unitarian Universalism, GA stands for General Assembly, the annual gathering of the tribe from all over its habitat. Mostly we're Americans, US residents, and have a deep interest in the affairs of the tribe, from its inner politics to its celebrities and justice issues. We who attend regularly have UU friends we only see at General Assembly and we tend to keep track of each other through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
When I left settled ministry in favor of part-time work in small congregations, I let go of the advantage of a professional expense account and had to subsidize my own attendance at GA, which can get costly when you're talking almost a week of housing, meals, and other conference expenses. So I also let go of junkie-hood and the most recent GA I attended was within close range---Portland in ??? So long ago.
But it's in Portland again this year and I am in the midst of moving from one North Coast town to another, so I can only spare one day to attend. I chose to register for Saturday's events, which include our annual district meeting (another expensive annual event I have not attended recently). There I will see many of the colleagues I've missed since I retired and that will be a real treat.
When I started blogging at Ms. Kitty's Saloon and Road Show in 2006, I got acquainted with other UU bloggers and became part of a group of men and women I only knew by their online names. Because blogging is a way to share ideas and concerns with each other, some of the blogs I most liked were doorways into others' personal and professional lives.
We learned about the scary times of illnesses and the lessons of those scary times. We shared thoughts about current events in our world, the triumphs and the tragedies of a world in turmoil, and we reached out in friendship to share good books, ideas about appropriate behavior (and beauty!) for ministers and other religious professionals, nurtured the young colleagues just learning the ropes, and laughed and cried over the normal everyday events of our lives and those of our blogger friends.
Now we mostly connect through social media, though many of us still maintain a certain blog presence. My own contributions have subsided quite a bit and I don't read as many blogs as I once did. That era of online journaling has seemed to fade a bit in favor of the handy availability of Facebook, the enormous ongoing conversation between me and 480 or so of my best friends---and their best friends.
So next Saturday, I will leave my Gearhart home for the day, drive up to the Portland Convention Center in time for worship (I hope) and spend the day connecting and reconnecting briefly with longtime friends I've never met. Hope to see you there!