Thursday, March 01, 2007

Whisperer On the Road

I've been meaning to talk this up in a longer post but, as many of you know, such go the best laid plans....

Send prayers: my first major speaking tour kicks off in nine days' time in the Mile High City -- info at The breakdown: Theology on Tap on Friday the 9th, policy talk/workshop on the blogging church at the "Living the Catholic Faith" conference on Saturday, the 10th. (No cover for the ToT, registration required for the conference.)

As this has been a somewhat slower week -- whatwith Fluffiness e Curia on retreat and all -- it's been a good time to plug away at brain-wracking and writing. (This will intensify in the next couple days, so your indulgence is entreated in the likely event of slow posting. Then again, as you lot have been on a downright tear this week as a flash-mob, it seems that I'm not the only one in need of a breather.)

Over the years, I've been a speechwriter for friends both political and pastoral, but never did it enter my mind that the turn at the podium would one day be my own... let alone so soon. At the same time, however, it's yet another mind-boggling gift of Providence that my start on the talking circuit has as its backdrop the town where, once upon a time (before the grey hairs started popping up on my right temple), there came the twist in the road that led to these pages, the moment from which everything that followed took its root and shape. Given that, it's a sort of homecoming I greet with no small sense of emotion and awe -- not to mention just a tad of joyful anxiety... just a tad.

For the record, the pilgrimage in question wasn't for World Youth Day. More on that, and everything else, for those who show up... and hopefully at least some in the area do, if for no other reason so I can offer a face-to-face "thanks" for reading and hanging in for the ride. That's my hope for each of these.

From Denver, next stop is DC's Our Lady of Victory parish -- home-base of blogging pastor Fr Milt Jordan -- for an evening panel on the 18th. Focus is "Broadcasting the Now Church"; moderating will be cardinale laico Russell Shaw, the dean of Catholic commentators here in the States, and a longtime consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Two nights later, it's back to Philly and St Joseph's University for the first-of-its-kind powwow of the Catholic blogosphere, entitled "Ecclesia Virtualis" -- "The Virtual Church." The one and only Amy Welborn and dotCommonweal's Grant Gallicho will be on the panel alongside the hometown insurrectionist, and fellow local boy/rockstar/BustedHalo ed-in-chief Bill McGarvey will moderate.

(FYI, given its particular relevance to the evening's topic, St Joe's officials are exploring the possibility of webstreaming this event for the benefit of those at a distance. Will keep the page looped-in on a response....)

Two nights later -- the 22nd -- it's a short trip down I-95 to Wilmington and another ToT, this time for Bishop Mickey & Co., offering some reflections and war stories from the journey in the friendly confines of Catherine Rooney's, Delaware's sweetest Irish pub.

And then, as previously mentioned, it's off to Youngstown, to cheer on another Phillyite done good... and sing "Christ is Made" a piena voce, of course.

So that's March -- welcome to it or, if you're me, beware of it. Other gigs down the line are being arranged, and you'll be hearing about those in due course.

Lastly, as all this is, to the last drop, your doing, I can't say thanks to all of you enough, both in substance and frequency -- and I can't help but ask "Why?" enough, either.

How or why between seven and 10,000 of you take the time to pop into these pages every day is beyond my comprehension, and that so many of you have taken the time to drop a line and say a kind or encouraging word never stops boggling my mind. After my recent TV debut on Salt + Light dropped two weeks back, this was even more the case; it just took days to simply read the notes, and I have to admit to praying that six more arms might somehow spontaneously generate for me, in the hope that I could get back to every last note.

Then again, part of humility is being able to work within the confines of what you've got. Clearly, I haven't mastered that. So for the tonnage I'm not able to get to that vastly outweighs what little I can tackle, just as I can't say thank you enough, I can't apologize enough, either.

The bottom line of all this is simpler than you might think. I've been blessed enough that it's run through the whole of my life -- from my family, my friends, the people I've been blessed to cross paths with along the way, and especially, in these days, through each of you.

Best part, yet again, is that it's an insight not of my own making, but one I happened across a few weeks back, from the farewell sermon Basil Hume gave on leaving his beloved Ampleforth in advance of his ordination as archbishop of Westminster.

"I am what you have given."

In a little over two years, this readership has blessed me with many gifts: grace upon grace, incredible doses of patience, generosity, candor, humor, encouragement, support, faith, hope and love. And a lot of other things, too. I have no idea what I could offer the wider conversation that'd be of use, but as I've been called to the task, if I could at least do justice to each of these, I'd be happy.... Suffice it to say, I'll try.

As for the rest, just as I am what you have given, I seek to be what you will give, so feel free to send some more gems of the trustiest feedback and advice around to lend a hand as these talks get cranked out. As always, thanks in advance.

Blessed Lent, Happy Weekend -- and regardless of season, God love you all forever.

Oh, and wish me luck!