My missed connection leaving me “stranded” in San Francisco proved to be a first class blessing. Bishop Joseph Paul Smith of the Old Catholic Church and his partner Javier took me to dinner that night. Paul is also a lawyer (and an EMT) and represented Fr. Bede Parry back during the hard times. We had collaborated on intense issues but never met in person. We compared notes and encouraged each other in our respective efforts. It was a night of good ecumenical partnership.
I then had a long restful night’s sleep such as I have not been having very often recently. The next morning was San Francisco at its best. The sun was shining through a gentle sea breeze. Then I had a coffee meeting with Shannon Eng, a postulant from Diocese of California. I met Shannon at Episcopal Youth Event 6 years ago, when she was still a youth minister. Her latest claim to fame is having actually won The Price is Right. I never expected to meet a Price is Right winner. She is a brilliant, gifted young woman who gives me hope for the future of the Church. When I hear people writing our epitaph, which I hear all the time, I think they haven’t met Shannon. As a bona fide millennial, she allows me to babble on about my view of millennial spirituality, which she then gently corrects and refines.
Shannon dropped me off at the SFO airport where there were a flock of bishops at and around the gate for the Taipei flight. The family reunion feeling started there. The flight itself was long and uneventful, broken up by occasional conversations with church friends like Canon Chuck Robertson (Canon to the Presiding Bishop) – I knew Chuck when we were both priests in the Macon Deanery of the Diocese of Atlanta, and Neva Rae Fox, the TEC Communications Officer who has held my hand through several PR ordeals and opportunities. Immigration and Customs went the smoothest I’ve ever experienced. We then had an hour-long drive in the shuttle to The Grand Hotel, which certainly lives up to its name. Red. Red. Red. All very Chinese. Even the Taiwanese refer to the architecture and interior design as being “in the Chinese style.” Elegance like the Mizpah but in a totally different aesthetic.
Sleeping last night was not so easy given that my body thought it was mid day. But I got a little shuteye. I had breakfast this morning with Alan Scarfe (Iowa), Prince Singh (Rochester), and Eugene Sutton (Maryland). I learn so much just listening to these guys. For breakfast I had turnip rice cakes, salad, and cuttle noodles (not sure if that means they are made from cuttlefish – they were green) along with assorted fruits and nuts. I hope that starting the day with culinary novelty will open my creaky old mind a bit.
HOB starts in just shy of an hour now with a group photo, then the opening Eucharist, and a welcome from Bishop David Lai (Diocese of Taiwan) – yes Taiwan is a Diocese of the Episcopal Church, not just an Anglican Communion partner. In fact, Taiwan is part of Province 8. The Rev. Elizabeth Wei sends greetings to our own Fr. Richard Henry. HOB always gives me several subjective experiences one of which is to hear “It’s A Small World” playing in my mind.