Off to IAM...

After tonight's Ash Wednesday gathering I will be heading off to NYC for the International Arts Movement conference. It will be my third and it has become a nourishing reprieve for me. This year Nicholas Wolterstorff, Billy Collins, the Jose Limon Dance troupe, jazz pianist Helen Sung, the chamber jam band Ljova and the Kontraband and visual artist Makoto Fujimura (plus others) will be present to share their gifts and reflections in a reasonably intimate setting. (For more information: http://www.internationalartsmovement.org/)

The organizers say this about the gathering: We come together to consider how the world that ought to be is in our midst; a world filled with truth, goodness and beauty; a world inhabited by diverse and vibrant cultures from which, like deep rooted springs that converge into a river bringing life everywhere it flows, emanate hope, peace, love and call all people to truly be human.

Each evening I will have a chance to visit with my daughter, Jesse, and her husband who live across the river in Brooklyn. It is always a blessing to hang out with these two wonderful souls. And it is exciting and challenging to go back to Manhattan - the place where I went to seminary, the place where the girls began to grow up, the place that still bears the scars of September 11th.

I hope to share some observations about the whole affair over the next few days - and then I am off to Cleveland, OH to preach the installation service of two California friends who have recently relocated to another of my favorite places. More on that, too.

But now it is time to reflect on my mortality and brokenness as the community of faith gathers for Ash Wednesday prayer and Holy Communion.

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