That just about covers it!
The first time I ever presided at a sizable interecclesial
gathering, I was a young brother, about 25, and I had the task of giving a
welcome and an introduction to the classes that would follow, and presiding at
the opening class period.
After much hustle and bustle, we were all ready to go; it was
9 am on a Saturday morning, and there were about 100 or so in attendance. I had
my carefully prepared program and notes for my comments and introduction.
Everything was set -- except for one thing. The speaker for
the first class was late. And so we waited -- which didn't help my nerves at
all! Finally, after 10 or 15 minutes, the speaker arrived. Car trouble and a
wrong turn (this was a new campsite, and unfamiliar to some -- so
But, now another delay. The speaker had a very large, very
tall chart that needed to be affixed to the wall behind the speaker's podium.
This was done with the help of a couple of tall brothers, standing on chairs,
and using a lot of masking tape while the increasingly restless audience
continued to wait. So finally, after what seemed like an eternity (but was
probably only about 20 minutes), we were ready to start.
By now, I had been mentally reviewing my carefully prepared
realizing that I should cut them, due to the time constraints.
So I was trying to do this in my mind, as I strode to the podium. "Good morning,
brothers and sisters," I began -- when suddenly the whole wall chart collapsed,
from the top down. It remained affixed to the wall at the bottom, but slowly the
top portion collapsed forward until it had completely covered me as well as the
podium where I stood. It was as thought the lights had gone out!
There were a few gasps and giggles. And there I stood. What
was the prescribed method for dealing with this? I stood there sort of hoping
that all would decide, on their own, to get up and leave. I waited a bit, but I
heard no movement. I peeked around the edge of the chart, which was still lying
across the podium. No, everyone was still there -- probably waiting to see what
the next "act" was going to be.
Now what? I finally decided that I couldn't just remain there,
hiding under the chart. So I gathered together all my notes, stooped down, and
slid sideways like a crab, out from under the chart, until I was free and clear.
"Brothers and sisters, we now call upon brother ______" and then I made a hasty
retreat for a chair.