by Rev. Dan Morley, North District Superintendent
I was frustrated, disappointed, and sad that our North District Leadership Conference was not to be in-person, but rather online — on zoom. I was ready to enjoy conversation in the same room with leaders across the district. I was looking forward to those one-to-one conversations that don’t happen quite so well on the phone, email, or even web video.
I wasn’t thinking so clearly. I needed to get out for my evening walk to move, reflect on the day, and plan for the next. The moon was bright. A fresh snow had fallen. I could see my breath as I walked the Duck Creek Trail. I was in Denver for a stay with my wife Bonnie where she makes a home caring for her mom.
As I stepped onto the paved trail I could see another walker had gone before me, making those first tracks in the fresh snow. Though I had walked the path many times, the way ahead was not very evident with the blanket of snow. It was nice to follow in another’s steps.
Feeling the cold air in my lungs and seeing the vapor of my warm breath felt good. Somehow it helped me to think more clearly and calmly.
The moonlight reflected off the snow, lighting the way. I could see the footsteps out ahead and then what looked like a patch where the snow was disturbed. As I kept walking I thought, how fun that the walker had stopped to make a snow angel in the fresh snow.
I imagined their playfulness of fanning their arms and legs while lying in the snow and looking up at the moon.
However, as I got closer I thought, what a messy snow angel. Their steps led me to the flurry of snow and as I put my foot onto the open dark spot, I instantly realized that it was a patch of ice. It was not a snow angel, but the evening walker hitting the ice and skating and slipping and then going down.
In an instant, I side-stepped to get off the icy patch and around. I was able to keep upright and moving ahead. I offered a breath prayer for the one who fell and then noticed that their tracks in the snow continued with an even stride. The fallen snow angel was OK.
Continuing on the walk, my thoughts turned to our Leadership Conference.
Seeing the tracks in the snow of the one who had gone before me, reminded me that we do not need to be in the same place at the same time to be connected. Though I did not know the walker’s name or whether a she or a he, or age, or anything other than their boot size — they let me know where to step and where not to step. We were connected.
Meeting on the web, through the ether, we can of course connect as we seek the connection and rely upon the Spirit to bridge the gap of space and even time. Going online will be an exercise of affirming the Great Connection we have in the faith which carries us through generations and across the miles.
I lifted another visible breath prayer in the cold air — thanking God for my invisible walking partner.
Going “virtual” was the good choice for our Leadership Conference at this time. Quick changes in formatting were made. The presenters (Bishop Grant, Kari Butchko, Dave Kopecky, and Cat Holbert) adapted brilliantly. Small groups shifted to breakout rooms and JamBoards. Carla and Cynthia in the district offices managed the behind scenes administration with coolness and grace. Small group facilitators stepped up to serve at the last moment to guide discussions.
On Saturday we could see the 80 or so squares of leaders across our district. Present, willing, ready to learn, and tool-up to make disciples for transformation. We hit a slipper patch or two, but always managed to stay on our feet. Now that we are moving past the Leadership Conference 2022, we will be reconnecting to take next steps to strengthen this Great Connection in ministry with Jesus Christ.
On Journey with Jesus,