This is the kind of day when worlds collide. They intersect, at least.
I met editors I have known by name only. Just a name in an email address line, a diocesan column attached, a SEND button. For ten years it has been like that. And today, I started meeting them. I’d see the nametag first, and then it would hit me. I know you. You are the editor at …
We’d shake hands. I’d feel awkward. Make sure they knew it’s okay to hit delete when my email shows up in their inbox every month. Only then, they’d assure me that is not how they feel at all.
Strange. Such a strange feeling, meeting people you know, but you don’t know. People who know you because you send them articles about your life, articles that go deep, expose you to some degree, because that’s the kind of writing I do. I get real. I find Jesus in the NOW of it. Where He shows up. And then I write about it. The weird. The real. The ugly and absurd. But the kind of stuff that happens in the course of regular days that makes us holy–or screws us up.
I’m not a theologian. I’m just a woman with a crazy backstory who happens to write a column and who has been doing that every month for ten years. And today, I met editors who keep nodding their head as if to say, go ahead and keep them coming.
As soon as one would walk away, another person would come up to my booth and ask me about Select International Tours, the pilgrimage company I write for as a travel writer and lead pilgrimages with to the Holy Land and Mexico and France. We talk about how we are a pilgrimage people, as Catholics, and we really must remember that. Abraham and Moses and Ruth and St. Helena and St. Francis were all pilgrimage people. Pilgrimage is what we do. And then someone else comes up to talk to me about pilgrimage and I’m blown away by the fact that we are both standing in a convention center in Buffalo, NY, but we both live in the same area and shop at the same grocery store–in Missouri. She’s interested in pilgrimage–and we both traveled to Buffalo to talk about it even though we could have met at Bread Company two minutes from her house back in Missouri.
I mention that I’m the freelance editor on their revised RCIA program. Then a light bulb goes off in her head. She knew my name sounded familiar. “Can a I get a picture of you–for promotions as we roll out the revised edition?” Sure, I say. And within minutes, a former stranger who lives in my back yard is taking my picture for a project I am working on back home. I set that project aside to come to the conference, and yet, it didn’t really leave me. Nothing and no one really leaves us. We carry it all with us.
I see Jill across the room, and I remember our trip to Israel. John is there, too. And Elizabeth. We were together on the other side of the world. And now, we are in Buffalo at the same time for the Catholic Media Conference.
And two booths over, Christine is talking about Jordan. We were together there in April. And Deacon Greg Kandra is on the other side of the room. He went too. Yet here we are, in Buffalo. Petra a few weeks ago. Niagara Falls this month.
We group off, talk, find common ground, moments our calendars will intersect in the future. It is all a blur–what you’ve done, what you’re doing, what you will do. Who you are, who you are to others, who you are at home, in another state, on the other side of the world.
The holiest people of all must be able to slide in and out of these kind of days without stress. They just are. As freelance as it gets. They belong to God. And they are the same no matter who they are with, no matter if everyone they know and work with and for shows up in the same room and begins to play musical chairs–adult style.
But there is something exhilarating about a day like today when the last ten years have just been about serving God in whatever capacity He has in mind. You see it has a kind of sense to it–that it really would all come together like the ingredients in a cake and get stirred up and baked. Those ingredients were never meant to sit in different cupboards year after year.
We are meant to pull out our talents and put them in a bowl together and mix them up.
Sure, it’s a recipe for gossip and competition and all the things that might be the worst about any profession–but not here. This is the best of the best. These are the ones who write for the Church. And they love the Church.
They could have been almost anything. New York City with all its big publishing houses is just not that far away.
But they followed another path. And evidently, this path tends to intersect now and then.
And like all things in the Church, this kind of coming together produces supernatural synergy. Things begin in moments like this–big things.
So, I suppose I’d better get some sleep, because tomorrow could hold almost anything. We could dream up almost anything, and it could change the world.