Journey Into Darkness

Our reading this Sunday was titled, “Potbound” by the poet Diana Chapman Walsh.

It was the usual atmosphere you’d expect from a conference.  A large room with too much air conditioning, bright fluorescent lights, and people easing in to their seats – a few people scurrying across the room to say hello to people they know, but most sitting and looking around, wondering what they got themselves into.

In this instance, it was a room of about 90 clergy, 8 religious educators, a radical Mormon mother, and a secular Dutch teacher that mistranslated the information about the workshop and was probably wondering what the heck she was doing in a room with mostly clergy.

The lights dimmed, soft music began to be played, some people started singing some sort of song, and once that was all done, the lead presenter jumped up to the front and center enthusiastically.  With a massive grin and a very gentle but resonate voice, he welcomed us.  He again welcomed us.  He welcomed us again and again, looking at as many of us as possible.

A colleague of mine turned to me and said, “This is going to be one of those self-improvement things, isn’t it?”  I nodded.  She sighed.  Indeed it was.  One presenter after another that morning glowed about what awaited us, they enunciated their syllables with frightening clarity, and spoke in a gentle lulling tone with a pace that let each word stand out. Anyone that has ever attended a corporate team building seminar, a workshop on empowerment, or anything that even has a hint of being what some call “new age” knows what this looks like. Read the rest of this entry »