This week's blog carnival topic is about surprises. I kind of love them, so that's great.
What's the most surprising connection you've made through RevGalBlogPals? Or the most surprising or helpful thing you've learned/experienced through this galship of friends?
Ooh! Well, I don't know if this is surprising or not, but it makes me happy to think about. When I was in Egypt, I was reading all kinds of RevGal blogs to stay sane. RevGal Jan, a reader of my blog (and I of hers), invited me to preach in her church upon my return. So when I got home, I trundled off to Washington DC for World Communion Sunday (one of my faves) to preach. She put me up in the home of a church member who was exceedingly lovely and who was in the midst of the adoption process. She was adopting a little girl from China, and her house was full of pandas. Coincidentally (and I'm not sure Jan knew this), I LOVE PANDAS. It was a great weekend in which I was afraid of the pulpit (which, in my defense, was about a thousand feet above the rest of the chancel), I ate delicious food, and I made new friends. Fast forward through five years of blog reading and occasional conference-catch-ups, and Jan moves to Chicago to become the Interim Associate Executive Presbyter for Ministry. Yes, that is the longest title ever. Not long after she moved here, I made it my mission to ensure that she experienced one of the best things summer in the city has to offer: The Taste of Chicago. Last summer we met by the lions and proceeded to eat our way through Grant Park for hours, talking and laughing and having a great time. And now, a year later, I've moved into her Presbytery and she's a fabulous colleague, a help in every trouble. (well, okay, she's not God. but she is delightful.)
It never really crossed my mind that it was weird to meet a friend through blogging and then fly across the country to hang out with them. Last summer I met up with friends in Scotland--friends I'd only met through RevGals, but now was able to see in person. We spent whole days together, driving all over the place and having a grand old time. Every time I do something like that, afterward I register a little bit of surprise at how the world has changed, that we can do this writing-and-reading thing and have it turn out to be as real as a face to face friendship. And it is thoroughly real.
So there you have it--from Egypt to DC to Chicago to Scotland and back again, in one fell blog-swoop! Along the way, I've met so many wonderful friends, both in person and online. I've learned a ton about ministry, about myself, about the church and the world. I can't even measure the impact RevGals on my ministry and sanity. Between conversations on the back deck, countless Ask The Matriarch columns that just seem to appear when I need them, support through the swirling vortex of despair, late night sermon writing companionship, and bunches of other ups and downs, I've been surprised, taught, heard, and supported. Now I'm a RevGal evangelist--whenever I'm at a conference or event, I'm always asking women if they know about us and inviting them to join in. Sometimes I get "Oh, I know you!" and sometimes I get "I'm so glad to hear something like this exists!" And then occasionally I still get "do you know Cheesehead? Or St. Casserole? Or Songbird? or MomPriest? or the Vicar of Hogsmeade?" and I have the pleasure of saying: I do, and they are every bit as lovely in person as you can imagine.