This past weekend I went to a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico hosted by The Center of Action and Contemplation, which is led by Franciscan Father Richard Rohr, one of the most influential authors/spiritual writers in my life.
This post will be more about the conference than it will be about the fine city of Albuquerque, but I must say, there was a certain richness of going to a conference in Albuquerque. I like saying Albuquerque. And writing “Albuquerque”. I digress.
In sum, it was an INCREDIBLE weekend. I think my mind and soul were about to explode by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around.
There were too many profound truths to share, but I thought I would share some preliminary thoughts.
*There will be another post on differences between this conference and other Evangelical Conferences I’ve attended.
1) There’s so much wisdom found in growing old – Nothing substitutes for aging. The depth of insight from Rohr, Rolheiser, and Gately was absolutely astounding.
At times, I wish I could skip the petulance and impatience of youth…
but as Rolheiser said in his final remarks, “Start now.”
2) This felt so much like my “tribe” – Even though these folks were from a different tradition (mostly Catholic), the teaching, the sharing, and the rhythm of the conference felt so much like “home”.
I’d highly encourage you to read some of Rohr and Rolheiser’s stuff. I haven’t read any of Gately’s writings, but one of her poems the first day really pierced me.
3) Chris and Phileena Heuertz are truly an inspiration – These two shared at the pre-conference, and they blew it up. They got a standing ovation from a crowd of 1000 or so folks mostly in their 60s and 70s.
Their organization, Word Made Flesh, serves the poorest, most marginalized people around the world, and their ministry is one rooted in a theology of brokenness, humility, and humanity. It was so beautiful hearing them share of their work and passion… and the blessing they receive while loving on people.
After Chris shared, Phileena got up and spoke about contemplative activism, and I was floored (get her book!).
These two are trying to live out everything we want to be about as a community, and everything I want to be about as a person.
There’s powerful truth found in the dance of contemplation and activism.
4) Amongst 1700 attendees, I may have been the youngest one there (31), and I venture to guess the average age was 60. My conversation partner the first day, Kevin, was a 72 year-old retired priest from Chicago.
5) As far as I know, I was the only Asian American there. Yes, I stood out from the crowd as a young Korean-American person.
I may have been one of the most sought-after attendees just because I was so noticeably different.
And yet, I felt at home.
6) I’m pondering what it looks and feels like to have a willful heart transformed into a willing heart. There were so many pearls like this one thrown around – I have so much to reflect on as a result of what I heard this past weekend.
As Rohr said one time, “We have many elderly people, but very few elders.”
I must say, I am so thankful for sages who have gone before… many of whom I know, and many of whom I met this weekend.
For those steeped in the second half of life – will you begin to give your life away? You probably have more to offer than you think.
And for those starting out or transitioning into the further journey – will you search deeper into what’s real and meaningful? God probably has so much more to reveal to you.
And sometimes, first halves and second halves have nothing to do with age.