This is what I wrote leading up to UnConference (Unco) 2011. After some self imposed travel misery going to last year’s Unco, you’d think that I would have been incredibly meticulous in making my travel plans for Unco12. You’d be wrong.
In my defense, I did a couple of things right. I bought my tickets way in advance. I knew exactly where my i.d. was… okay, I did exactly two things right. Here’s what I did wrong: First, I bought my tickets before agreeing to help with a class at the college. I had planned to give myself an extra day to hang out in the bay area after the conference. I also forgot to find someone to preach for me before I left for the conference. I was really trying to carve out a little vacation for myself, arriving in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon and leaving Thursday evening. Well, because of my poor planning, I had to leave Sunday night and come back on Wednesday night (actually Thursday morning). This required repurchasing tickets at the last minute. I. Am. Brilliant.
I flew through Denver. There were pretty bad storms in the area, so the plane was delayed. It was also oversold, probably because of idiots who buy their tickets at the last minute. Oh and the plane also had mechanical issues. Things were looking grand. All things considered, it wasn’t that bad. I was supposed to get to SFO at 9pm, it was closer to 11. I took a cab to SFTS from SFO and got to the seminary around 12:30 or 1am. Of course, I was coming from the eastern time zone, so it felt like 4 am, but whatever. I arrived to awaiting friends, which quickly reminded me of why I was there.
Unlike last year’s gathering, I didn’t come into this year’s Unco just as a participant. I was a host which added some additional responsibilities. Several of the other hosts weren’t able to make it (Unco travel curse is real, y’all!), so I felt a little more pressure this time around. I was also feeling some weight of strraddling the line of wanting Unco to represent itself well to my alma mater and wanting SFTS to represent itself well to Unco. I think we succeeded on both fronts and I am thrilled to see the relationship develop between the two!
A lot of ideas and a surprising amount of projects are generated from Unco. It is an intense two day period, that doesn’t feel nearly as intense as it is. Most of the time. Personally, I will be working in collaboration with some colleagues on a resource for and about bi-vocational ministry. I am very excited about that!
As productive as the time was, the greatest benefit for me again this year was the time that I got to spent with colleagues and friends. And, of course, meeting new colleagues and friends. Last year I came into Unco more outwardly broken, about to enter into a really hard season. This year the hurt was deeper down and some scarring had taken place that I was unaware of. In both instances, there has been a community around me that has held me up and given me the space to explore what God might be doing in my life.
In my life it has consistently been true that it is always difficult to get to the places where I need to be. Two years running, UnConference has proven that to be true. Despite the difficulties in the journey, once I arrive, I am so glad that I am there, surrounded by “my” people; people who care deeply about the church, the hurts of the world and each other. I don’t feel like I belong in many place. UnCo has become a place of deep belonging and real purpose for me. I would travel through hell and high water for that.
So that will be next year…