Well, I’m here.
We were up at 3am and on the road by 3:45am so I could catch a 6am flight, which was delayed half an hour by torrential downpours. (The other bummer here was that Megan leaves for Germany tomorrow, so this was goodbye for six weeks.)
The delay in Indianapolis meant that I had to basically sprint from one end of the Atlanta airport to another to catch my connection to LaGuardia, and they had already seated standbys and closed up the plane when I (and two others from the same flight) arrived. Because of a delay at LaGuardia, they were able to let us on, but I’m not sure they didn’t bump off people who had been seated on standby in order to do it.
My friend (and editor, groomsman, personal reference, and now tour guide) Matthew Murray met me at the airport to navigate me through the combination of bus-and-subway rides I needed to take to get to Grand Central Station. No big deal, really, but it was an excuse to see Matt for the first time since my college graduation in 2005. The subway, by the way, is basically identical to the London Underground, except that I didn’t hear the friendly “Please mind the gap between train and the platform” warning.
Grand Central, by the way, truly is a marvel. You want it, you can find it — except wireless access, it seems. For some reason the T-Mobile pay service wasn’t available, but then the real tease was an item showing up in my networks list called “Free Public Wireless,” only to have it not work.
From Grand Central, it was fairly straightforward to catch the commuter rail train I needed to Crestwood, making five means of transportation to get my from my house to the conference: car, plane, bus, subway, and commuter rail. (It was on the last of these, just for the sake of you transit geeks, that I heard the American version of “Please mind the gap…”) Then I had the short-ish walk to St. Vlad’s from the train station. (By the way, St. Vlad’s website folks: your online directions miss a very important stop sign.)
(Just as a point of reference: I left my house at 3:45am, and arrived at St. Vlad’s at roughly 1:30pm. This was with no particular idle time, too, meaning all told it took nine hours and forty-five minutes to get from my front door to the seminary. When I drove to St. Vlad’s two and a half years ago, it was about a fourteen hour trip.)
Check-in was painless; they finally processed the refund of my registration fee (half of which was reclaimed at the bookstore, but never mind that now), and I met the other volunteers. Interestingly enough, they’re all from Nashotah House, the ECUSA seminary for the Anglo-Catholic-minded (and where a particular individual teaches when he isn’t busy studying at the Pontifical Gregorian Institute). According to Chancellor Fr. Chad Hatfield (himself a Nashotah House alumnus), this is the largest gathering of Nashotah House folks ever at St. Vladimir’s, and it evidently represents an initial step with regard to establishing something of a formal relationship between the seminaries.
Fr. Chad was very nice to the volunteers, giving us a tour of the campus and stopping for a photo op. He’s a bit of a crack-up; I’m not sure how many of his comments were intended to be repeated to the general public, so I won’t reproduce them here (nothing ill-fitting a priest, mind you, just some things about some possible future directions at the seminary), but I’ll just say he’s not afraid to speak his mind. According to one of the seminarians with whom I was talking, this is A Good Thing.
I’m meeting some very interesting people, and there are really several different kinds of folks here — it’s far more diverse than I thought it might have been. Fr. Peter Jacobsen, whom I met four years ago at the Antiochian Sacred Music Institute (and who spent a good chunk of time walking me through the Missale Anglicanum, AKA the Knott Missal), is here. My roommate is an Episcopal priest, and he’s been fascinating to get to know, even in the short time we’ve talked. The Nashotah crew are great. There’s an ELCA pastor, an Annapolis Naval Academy professor, and so on. One of the seminarians here to whom I’ve spoken is an Episcopalian himself who’s here specifically to study patristics with Fr. John Behr. And so on.
Vigil for the Ascension was a very peaceful end to the day, and as it happened, Met. Kallistos was at the altar (even though he wasn’t celebrating). His primarily liturgical contribution was to perform the anointings during the litia and artoklasia — but I believe he is celebrating the Divine Liturgy tomorrow morning.
Speaking of which, the bad news is that Liturgy is at 7:30am; the good news is that the commute is very short. Still, I’ve been up now for nearly 21 hours, and tomorrow is when the real fun begins, so I believe I will close this for the time being. Less exposition and more actual thoughts once, y’know, I can actually form some.