On Sunday I’m driving to Maryland. With five people I’ve never actually met face to face. Actually, I’m technically driving with two of them and travelling with the other three (we’re taking two vehicles).
I signed up for the UnConference at the end of last year. I’d been hearing some buzz about it so I checked it out. It looked fascinating. But I wasn’t sure it was okay for me to go (I tend to create guilt and grief for myself when it’s not necessary and worrying about signing up for a conference I was clearly invited to is just part of that), so I emailed one of the organizers. She told me to sign up already. So I did.
Basically, it’s a conference that’s not planned ahead of time. Here’s a link to the wikipedia article.
The past several conferences I’ve attended have been big conferences. You go, there are speakers and bands and a full schedule of workshops. It’s attended by thousands of people. It’s a lot of fun, and I learn a lot, sitting along the wall with my notebook open, but it’s big and it’s easy to be lost in the crowd.
This UnConference will be attended by about 60 people. We are bringing the program. There aren’t hired speakers or bands (although some fantastic speakers and musicians will attend). There is space for workshops, but the organizers did not plan the workshops. We, the ones attending, are bringing the program.
This morning, I’m packing my bag of supplies. I’m bringing sidewalk chalk, books by Shel Silverstein and Walter Brueggemann, a packet of black and white pictures I have for a prayer station, construction paper, chenille stems, glue, notebooks, my magnetic mosaic set, a bag of dirt from my yard (requested by one of my UnCo co-attenders), some Happy Birthday stickers for friends (and me) celebrating birthdays while we’re together, and some random odds and ends (a slinky, a bubble wand, a jump rope…).
I’m excited. I love things like this–getting together and brainstorming and figuring things out together. I love the bond that comes with meeting people and traveling across the country in the same day. I love it that my introverted, wallflower self will be stretched to participate and offer input and bring something to the table. I love the conversations that are already happening (follow or check out #unco11 on twitter). I’m excited to have conversations about vocation, calling, scripture, health, intergenerational ministry and whatever else comes up. I’m excited to spend time with the #RunRevRun group that’s planning to pray and run together. I’m excited to have time to pray and think and wander. This UnConference came at the perfect time–just right before things get crazy busy for summer, so I can leave with little stress about what I’m missing.
Your prayers for my friends and I as we travel are appreciated, as are your prayers for my family while I’m gone and the conference and the rest of the group attending in general.