Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Virtual Staff Becomes Real Staff
For the retreat at Laity Lodge with the High Calling Blogs (HCB) staff, we drove from San Antonio west to Kerrville, and then another 20 or so miles west. Then south for quite a ways, turning off on a road of crushed rock (I’d guess limestone but I’m no rock expert; I sort them into ugly, pretty and common).
We drove for a few miles in the darkness, and then descended to the river. We went straight in and followed the river road (or road in the river) for what seemed like the equivalent of three or four blocks. And then a steep turn upward back on to the road. Eventually, four of us were dropped off at Song Bluff House – Gordon Atkinson, David Rupert, Sam Van Eman and myself. It was actually quite a nice residence – three bedrooms, two baths, large living and dining area, and perched on a bluff about the lodge’s youth camp. It was well after midnight, and we all crashed.
Breakfast the next morning was at 8, and then a devotion time followed by the staff meeting. Gordon led the devotion on Matthew 7:21-24, and I should have known something was up when I wrote the following in the journal I carry everywhere now:
My heart is the Lord’s
My hands are the Lord’s.
My ears are the Lord’s.
My feet are the Lord’s.
My will is the Lord’s.
My hope is the Lord’s.
My desire in the Lord’s.
The Lord is my desire.
The Lord is my hope.
The Lord is my will.
The Lord is my feet.
The Lord is my ears.
The Lord is my hands.
The Lord is my heart.
The meeting started with a short presentation on the history of the Foundation for Laity Renewal and the Howard E. Butt family, and the lodge property itself. HCB editor Marcus Goodyear discussed the upcoming merger of the High Calling site with the High Calling Blogs site. Then Laura Barkat, HCB managing editor, talked about the importance of trust. We had lunch and then a telephone conference with the site design firm on the new process for entering content.
One of the best parts of the meeting was to talk with people I’d been working with online for more than a year in some cases. I had just worked with Sam on a Random Act of Poetry post for HCB. I’d worked with Marcus on several projects, and had been communicating and then working with Laura Barkat since the summer of 2009. And I work closely with Bradley Moore, aka Shrinking Camel, who’s my editor at HCB for posts on work.
But then there were all the others, people I had followed on Twitter and Facebook, left comments on their blogs, traded emails with from time to time: Gordon and Sam, Ann Kroeker, Laura Boggess, Claire Burge, Dan Roloff, David Rupert, Cheryl Smith, Dena Dyer, Deidra Riggs, Dan King (the Bible Dude himself!), Ann Voskamp and Jennifer Dukes-Lee.
When you read people’s writing for a sustained period and work with them online, you gradually form a picture of what they must be like in person. And for me there were no surprises. Well, not exactly. Sam Van Eman is a lot more serious on his New Breed of Advertisers blog than he is in person. Not that he’s wild and crazy. Well, not hugely wild and crazy. Okay, he’s kind of a crazy guy in a reserved sort of way.
I ended the evening by walking back to Song Bluff House, about a half a mile from the main lodge. The next day, Friday, we’d begin the workshops. I would be participating in the poetry workshop with Scott Cairns, a poet and professor at the University of Missouri in Columbia (who lives about 90 minutes from my house). All these Missouri connections…
Photograph: Laity Lodge, Great Hall building from across the Frio River, courtesy of my cell phone.