If you ever have the chance to come visit us at the NACR headquarters in Richmond, Virginia we would love to see you. Just don’t come the week AFTER the Summer Institute of Recovery Studies event – because the entire team is at home watching Lifetime movies and eating chocolate. Putting on a conference is never for the faint of heart!
This year’s event was amazing. I’ve returned home to Virginia with an inbox full of thank you notes and requests for follow up conversations. I agree with the folks who are writing in – the week was wonderful. I appreciated our speakers and their topics – enriching, stimulating, sometimes uncomfortable in their prophetic messaging and challenges to rethink and re-imagine our serve potential in the field of recovery ministry.
I also deeply appreciated the spirit of the attenders – who were flexible when faced with a last minute hotel change and open to receiving from each presenter with a spirit of grace and encouragement that I can only pray is available to us in the rest of our daily life.
A weeklong intensive means that for most of us, we lose touch with things like the nightly news, Facebook and all the other ways we stay in touch with the world. After a day of meetings, dinner out with new friends and old alike, most nights I returned to my room and crashed. It was a culture shock to sit in the airport and watch the news scroll across the bottom of a television screen; it was painful to read through my Facebook feed – so much vitriol, so little kindness.
We learned many new things at this conference – solid theology, the latest statistics and new research around the addiction epidemic, met practitioners, and shared our experiences. The thing I hope I never lose from this week is my renewed commitment to be part of the solution, not the problem.
The first session led by Dale Ryan was a masterful work. He unpacked Genesis 1:1-2: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. RSV
He had much to say about this under-attended-to passage, but the crowd really got behind this image of the Spirit of God hovering over formless, void and dark places. He reminded us that God is present, patient and not overly anxious about the creative process – even when it is messy.
Our mission continues at the NACR. We will work diligently to provide you with resources, encouragement and support to assist you and your church bring help and hope to hurting people. But I hope you will hear Dale’s message and use it to bolster your spirits for all those days when your hard work has not quite paid off and everything just looks like a big mess. (a video exerpt of Dale’s talk will be available soon here.