My family and I are benefiting from a gracious gift from some friends. The prospect of spending 12 days away from Margaret, Karina (11), and Cade (9) for General Convention seemed quite daunting when I was elected as a deputy. But our friends made it possible for my family to spend a few days with me here in Salt Lake City.
Yes, we’ve done some vacation-type activities. For example, we took the kids up to Olympic Park in Park City, site of the 2002 Winter Olympics. We’ve shopped at the malls near the hotel and convention center. That’s all well and good. Those activities alone make for a wonderful gift. But there’s a deeper gift I’ve been granted.
I’ve been able to spend two days worshiping with my family. For a change, I’ve stood next to them during Holy Eucharist instead of being separated by an altar. I’ve been close enough to hear them sing (or not). I’ve fielded questions that arose after Episcopalians around us recited the Lord’s Prayer in languages my children had not heard until arriving here. I’ve received the Body and Blood of Jesus with them instead of giving it to them.
I ponder the impact this convention will have on my children’s journey with Jesus in the Episcopal Church, as they’ve received daily hugs from Bishops High, Ohl, and Mayer, and engaged in deep conversations over dinner with deputies from the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas (not to mention small talk with bishops processing past them during Sunday’s worship service).
Karina and Cade aren’t the only children here at General Convention. There are even younger folks among us.
One can hear the occasional cry, or laugh, or emphatic “Amen” during the liturgies after all the adults have finished saying “Amen.” After hearing their voices and the stories from other deputies and bishops about the times they brought their children or grandchildren to different conventions, it’s clear to me that children are welcome here. They add to the joy of this large, Episcopal family. Their presence here is indeed a great gift that will keep on giving.