For the past two days I have attended the Willow Creek Summit, via satellite. It was an opportunity to invest in learning, skill development and inspiration.
It's been busy lately, so it was with anticipation that I mingled with about two hundred other leaders at the start of yesterday, grateful to be pulled out of the race for a couple of days.
I couldn't help looking around me at people. On the way into the building I noticed a short older woman wearing slacks and a tee shirt and sensible shoes built for comfort, not style. She had a slight dowager's hump and a softly rounded body. There was nothing remarkable about her features. She wore glasses and her hair was permed into a gray halo.
As she wandered the crowd, purse in hand, she looked slightly out of place among all the eager beaver leader types. But something in her drew me.
It seemed that everywhere I went during the two days: the gym at refreshment breaks; the bookstore; the washroom; she would be there, on her own, going about her business.
I was tempted to say hello and find out who she was. I wish I had, but I was always on a mission to spot someone I was looking for or buy a book or something.
I was sitting with my coworker and friend, Irene, and Paul; and we moved to the back of the auditorium because it was warmer. There, in row in front of us was the woman, sitting between two friends with similar permed grayish white halos.
As Irene and I reacted to exciting concepts, profound thoughts, humour, or inspiring stories, we laughed, clapped, or responded out loud to what we heard. Then we noticed that the elderly ladies, whom we christened, "The three amigos," were doing the same thing: making eye contact with one another at key points or responding to a pertinent point vocally or by nudging one another. I loved their engagement.
In the washroom on our final break, the little old lady was at the sink, leaning over towards a mirror, purse on the sink in front of her as she applied lipstick! This just made me smile; my lips had been on their own since their once daily application of lipstick during my morning toilette.
When I get to be "even older than I am today," I hope I don't count myself out. I'll be avoiding a gray halo but I hope I'm like her, applying lipstick in a washroom at a conference where I sit with good friends, learning something more about a topic I am passionate about.