Yesterday was a great day. We got to sleep in a little bit later and had some time to poke around the vendors before our first session. While this may sound like a silly highlight, it was pretty exciting for us because there is nowhere near us to buy Catholic books and religious items. So as Corinne (was my coworker) and I were picking out some books at the Word Among Us booth, one of the the ladies working there looked oddly familiar. After we got our books she came and stood right in front of me. “Do you know who I am?” She asked. I stared for a long moment, completely forgetting her name, but remembering the face.
It was Any, who I had not seen since I was eight years old. She had done a gap service year in my Catholic community in New Jersey and had been my camp counselor and the aide in the grade below me at school. Here she was in person! I cried as we caught up a bit. She kept saying “You’re married!” in shock. It was such a beautiful moment, and it reminded me of how beautiful our church is. We are truly connected to one another, and the Holy Spirit works to bring us back to those we have lost connection with in one way or another.
Although nothing can really top seeing Any again after all these years, it was a really beautiful day at the conference. My first workshop was a singing one, and while it may not have been geared toward middle school religion teachers, it was so much fun to sing in a choir again. We sang in four and five parts and sat in sections and it was a beautiful affirmation of the beauty of music and its power to bring people together. I also got some cool ideas of ways to teach song and music in a way that connects students to their own personal faith.
My section session wasn’t really what I had been expecting, so I left and had a chance to receive confession and spend some time in front of the Eucharist. I loved seeing the huge variety of people represented in the little chapel: moms with small children, people praying in diverse languages, nuns and priests in full religious garb, trendy young hipster Catholics with earbuds, and so many more.
My final session of the day was with Father James Martin, of whom I am a huge fan. We walked through the story of Lazarus and reflected on its various characters. Father James has so many valuable and beautiful insights into what has always been one of my favorite stories. This was definitely a very prayerful session, and ended with a guided scriptural meditation. I felt so in touch with God throughout the whole day, and the chance to pray with scripture was really wonderful. It also reminded me that this is something I would like to do more in my classroom.
All in all, day two was full of blessings, fun and connecting more deeply with God. Stay tuned for day three highlights!