As we’ve mentioned here before, the Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture and Consultation is almost here. Lots of people are doing lots of last minute tasks in preparation for the event, which begins Sunday, 5:30 p.m., with a benefit reception and Silent Auction in Gardencourt on the Seminary campus.
Most of those people are women, and some are men. Most of the people are here on the Seminary campus at least part of the time, and some (like Dr. Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas, our guest lecturer, or Rev. Dr. Teresa Snorton, who will preach and lead worship on Monday, or Dr. Maura Toro-Morn, who will be a special guest consultant and presenter on Monday night) are in various other locations.
Most of this work will be nearly invisible, or only visible in its final form. That final form will typically smoothly mask the time and effort it took to bring that form into being, and take much less . The items in the Silent Auction, most of which are hand-made, will not disclose the number of hours or the experiences that went in to making them. The registration packets that registered attendees receive, the programs and brochures, the raffle tickets for the quilt [please do buy one, by the way!] will blend into the background.
Many of us have had the experience of working long and industriously on something, a paper or a sermon, for instance, or a special celebratory meal, that takes far less time to encounter or to perform than it does to prepare. I confess, I have thought about this phenomenon more than once in the past several days!
This morning, I had this thought: there are other things, things we commonly account valuable, that have the same experiential structure. Diamonds, for instance. A lot goes into a diamond, a lot of living, and then a lot dying; a lot of organic material. And, as we might remember from middle school science, a lot of stress and pressure, a lot of heat. The mass of a diamond is some tiny fraction of the mass of stuff that eventually goes into it. And the process of transformation, from organic material to clear, brilliant, solid, reflective crystal is also mostly invisible – and indispensable.
So, even though it will take much longer to put together packets than to hand them out, to prepare brochures than to glance at them, to compose welcomes and introductions than to deliver them, these are no needless efforts. These are no needless efforts, as lecturers and preachers and presenters, lodgers and feeders and transporters, welcomers and facilitators, and all the participants, prepare to come together in the unique, unrepeatable encounter that will be the 3rd Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture and Consultation. In the midst of these needful and soon to be nearly invisible efforts, we are eagerly anticipating a final, brilliant, result.