I can finally take a breath after twenty-four hours of a conference I helped organize (three sessions, a reception, and a keynote address) and an overlapping sophomore matriculation session at which I was pressed into emergency service to moderate a session after two alumni went missing. Suddenly it's Saturday at 4 pm, and I've been engaged in academics more intensely since Friday at 3 pm than I am most workdays.
The Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Theology and Energy, I can now say with some confidence, was a huge success. The session room, which was set up for 52 attendees plus four presenters, was nicely filled for all three sessions -- even this morning, when a cold rain descended on our locale; over 70 people came to the keynote address at our sister college across town; and 20 people stayed for a post-conference discussion on further energy issues.
Our grants made it possible for us to subsidize the registration for about 30 students from both institutions, and a few more came on their own or were sponsored by other organizations. I experienced a surprising warmth when the speakers -- including the keynote speaker, a woman of charismatic brilliance and charm -- praised my scholarship and expressed appreciation for my work in co-hosting the conference. I was keenly aware that my students were hearing me being described as a prominent thinker in the fields in question. At those moments, I felt the spheres of my relationships with students and my relationships with theological colleagues around the globe colliding, and it wasn't something I was prepared for. For a while, at least, the Honors students in attendence at those events will see me in a new light.
My own paper, "'One More Stitch': Relational Productivity and Creative Energy," was very well received and sparked much discussion. I was thoroughly pleased, and relieved in a sense to have ideas that have been consuming me for the past several months released into the academic environment. It's possible that the conference papers will form the basis of a book, and if so, I'll look forward to the response from a wider public.
For now, I look forward to an evening of relaxation at last. The effort was worth it. And I hadn't expected it, but bringing people I know and interact with on a national level to my campus was immensely satisfying. My pride in my college, my university, and my students filled me with an energy I had not anticipated. I think I can ride on that feeling of achievement at least until it's time to undertake the next gargantuan act of creation.