It was not an easy choice to leave. I drove off late afternoon on Saturday with the feeling that the conference was just beginning to hit its stride and fulfill its exciting promise. Until lunchtime, participation for those of us who were not up on the podium, speaking or participating in panels, was largely passive listening. I suspect that many, like myself, were itching to get in on the action.
The lunchtime mixing at the cafeteria tables was a good start. Then, after lunch, came the first of the "Buddhist Geeks Workouts!" sessions, with smaller groups gathering to mull specific issues; I chose a group focusing on "Chaplaincy as Practice" led by Danny Fisher, and enjoyed the opportunity to experience the art of active listening. Having learned the value of pastoral work early in life from my father's example as a country vicar, I have always admired the much-needed work that chaplains do in such places as hospitals, prisons, schools and military bases, especially in bringing spiritual aid and comfort to those in distress, the sick and dying. It was also a special pleasure to meet Danny and see him in action, having "known" him online for quire some time. Could have spent another two hours at this one!
Following up on the pre-arranged workshops, participants were invited to propose our own sessions for "Buddhist Geeks Unplugged!" My hand shot up to propose a group meeting of bloggers--a moment I had been waiting for. I knew there had to be fellow bloggers at the conference, but had no way of identifying who they might be. We ended up with a good group and a lively session that proved us to be a diverse bunch indeed, each with our own approach to the art of writing, how and where to out it out into the world, and who we think we're talking to. It was Ken McLeod who proposed, as our time drew to a close, that we go around the circle to allow each of us to speak for a few moments about "why we do it." Excellent insights into the diversity of motives and intentions.
In the course of this last round, I circulated a pad with the request for blog names and sites. I promised to post the list, so here it is--the order determined solely by the direction of the pad:
Rev. Paul Dochong Lynch, Zen Mirror; Chan Poetry: Before Thought; and Abstract Purpose (could not find a link for the last one.)
Rev. Danny Fisher, Rev. DannyFisher.org
Stephanie Nash, Mindfulness Arts (celebrating her first blog entry on Sunday!)
Paul T. Bradley, reporting for LA Weekly's Style Council
Carter Smith, Carter Smith's Blog
I plan to add these blogs to my blogroll shortly, and look forward to following what my fellow Buddhist bloggers have to say. Meantime, I thank them all for a great gab session. As I say, despite the reservations I express on Friday morning, I was very glad to have overcome them and to have been a part of the conference. Thanks to Vince Horn and his Buddhist Geeks colleagues for having dreamed this up, and for having put so much time and effort into making it a reality. I'm looking forward, now, to next year's event...