This week I left Dallas to attend the North American Godly Play Conference held at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. I was leading the Advanced Training held in conjunction with the conference, and it was my great joy to be doing that with my dear friend Nancy St. John. They put us up in a beautiful little cottage, complete with a screened porch overlooking a lovely garden. I treasured my mornings on the porch with Nancy. Linda Clapp, another beloved friend, decided to observe the Advanced Training which meant we had lots of time with Linda too. Linda, Nancy and I have been training together for fifteen years meaning we can almost finish each other’s sentences.
Here are some of the other high points of the week:
- Jerome Berryman’s keynote address on Godly Play: Is it worth it?
- Dr. Robert Whitaker’s keynote address on Spirituality and health.
- Spending three beautiful days in the stunning Chapel of the Apostles (that’s where we held the Advanced Training), with its tall ceilings, and huge clear glass windows looking out on the beauty of God’s creation.
- Leading a workshop on nurturing children’s spirituality for 90 people!
- Jerome’s visit to the Advanced Training and the opportunity to teach about the story he calls, “The Greatest Parable” with him!
- Taping the Greatest Parable (a huge four part story about the life of Jesus) for the Godly Play You Tube Channel with Nancy one late afternoon in the Chapel of the Apostles as the sun began to set.
Another important piece of work I did was a presentation on Godly Play Resources, the little company in Ashland, Kansas that makes the materials we use in Godly Play rooms. I serve as the Materials Consultant for GPR helping them to maintain quality and developing new materials. I asked the staff at GPR to send me pictures – lots of pictures – of the people in Ashland making the materials we use. I turned it all into a slide show complete with music. I wanted to bring conference goers to Ashland and put faces with the much loved materials we all use. It was the last morning of the conference so only a few people were left (maybe 50 or so of the 250 who were at the conference throughout the week) but for the people there it was very moving. I was touched to see so many wiping there eyes as they watched. Here is a link to the slide show: We are Godly Play Resources
Sewanee is a kind of magical place. Everything moves more slowly (the speed limit throughout the town is only 15 mph), there are large expanses of grass, beautiful, leafy old trees, castle-like buildings across the campus, houses nestled among the trees with big front porches, gardens filled with black eyed susans (my favorite), and this time of year butterflies seems to be everywhere. There is a tradition that says angels roam around, dancing in the gardens and protecting all the inhabitants. When people drive through the stone gates as you leave town it is the custom to touch the roof of your car to “grab” a Sewanee angel to take with you. As I finish out my time
as a chaplain here in Dallas I am doing so protected by my Sewanee angel!