As I’m packing up for a quick trip to Philly for a one-day conference, I’ve been thinking about my shifting thinking with regard to these events. Where I had formerly seen them as a kind of training, I now see them as more of a relational occasion. I most look forward to spending time with the folks I’ll be traveling with, and the faraway friends I’ll see up there, and the new friends that I always seem to make at these things. In the past, I was looking for practical ideas to implement when I got home– a fat conference binder full of notes and an armload of books were the signs of a successful trip. Now, I’m happy to have someone provoke my thinking, and to give me an excuse to catch up with friends and hear about what they’re working on and thinking about. It’s a shift from ‘transferable principles’ toward friendship and incarnation. A greater appreciation for the diversity of life and locale, and for the perspectives of those people living those lives in those locales.