Retail Ministry in the Land of No Sales Tax

Ah, Oregon. Land of Mighty Ducks, the Columbia River Gorge and No Sales Tax. What a beautiful thing. I’m here at the McMenamins Edgefield at the Womens Convergence conference just outside of Portland for some fun and conversation and relaxation. The weather here today has been absolutely gorgeous. Rain was in the forecast, but we were pleasantly surprised by a warm(ish) sunny day.

This morning as I sat in the sessions, I had a lot of questions about why I was here. I bristle at the idea of “Women’s Ministry” but I know that these are women who do the same but still want to draw encouragement from each other, and I’ve met some great ones. I’ve heard some really moving stories, and for the first time since taking some classes in spiritual director school, I’ve become aware of the privilege it is to listen to someone tell their story and hold it with them into the light of God’s love. Some of the women here are reluctant leaders. Some are reticent leaders. Some are in dark places, dry places, lonely places. Some are light and bubbly (I stay away from them). They’re all great, strong women who want to lead people in the way of Christ and are looking for others to travel that journey with them.

After lunch, I skipped out on the afternoon activities (of which there weren’t many) and navigated the mass transit system (MAX) to the downtown area to shop. It’s such an interesting mix of east coast and old west with modern touches. Mostly it reminds me of a more urban, populated Missoula, Montana. Sorry if that doesn’t help you. There are a couple of things I’ve noticed here that are different than SF. First, it’s difficult to distinguish between those who are homeless and those who are not. I’m not sure if the homeless people are fancy or the not homeless people are grungy. Probably a bit of both. Second, there are a lot of piercings around the mouth area. Finally, people wave and say thank you to the bus driver as they get off. Oh, and the buses are really clean.

Tonight is dinner and a game night. I’m not so much into the games, so there is an on-site movie theater here that is showing Sweeny Todd at 9 and I’m going to catch that – one more to check off my lists before the Oscars!


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