First off, let me just say that I *love* the MOPS conference. Every planned activity is so awesome, and it so what I’m looking for in this stage of life.
But I *HATE* the Gaylord Opryland.
It seems incredibly weird to have this great conference, all about what God wants to do in our lives, in the lives of others in this complex that God did not, would not, create.
I know it sounds totally presumptive to say it, but hey, they are my thoughts. I’m entitled to them. I know that somewhere and architect planned this thing…maybe even a Christian archtect. But I’m saying that somewhere, they made a wrong turn on the planning grid.
One of my first comments while we were completely overwhelmed and confused upon check in, wandering and looking for our room, following directions like ‘go through two gardens, pass the golf shop, then go left, but do not take that elevator. Walk 3/4 of the way down a hallway of rooms and take THAT elevavator….” was “Hey, this reminds me of the Shining”.
If you’ve never seen that movie, you should. Just because it’s a classic. In fact, watch both the Jack Nicholson original and the remake, because the both are different and good. So is the book, but it doesn’t give the imagery of this place. Not to spoil the plot but it’s about another hotel that God did not create, and the ghastly things that happen there.
So maybe that idea taints my opinion of the Gaylord…but it is still my idea of the place. It’s grotesquely enormous. We could probably move every illegal alien in the States here, or the entire population of a starving 3rd world country and not notice it. They could survive solely upon the excess of this place, and think they were kings. Probably though…they would still yearn for something more….knowing that while they had nothing before…that it was at least natural. This place is not.
Hallways don’t connect. Direction doesn’t matter. There are dead ends, and half floors. Nothing is a circle, or a right angle, or any other connection that makes sense to the mind. You can not ever grasp the floorplan of the place and be comfortable walking around. Even the commedian last night made several jokes about it. (Most of what he said was absolutely hilarious….but absolutely true. Which is part of what made it so hilarious). You get the impression that the paths are ever changing and moving to confuse you…even though you know that logically…it’s not the case.
There is no sun to give you an idea of which direction you are headed…and which way you’ll need to return. They give you a map, but that doesn’t help…because your brain just can’t connect those lines on the paper, which seem to make sense, with the never ending maze of paths offered to you. There are beautiful, yet unnatural plants everywhere. Plants not meant to grow in this area every, especially in this season. Odd varieties of tropical, rain forest, or woodsy plants, all maintained in a hermetically sealed environment where no moisture touches their leaves, no real sun brightens them and warms them, and it’s always dry and 72 degrees.
I’m the early riser of our group, and this morning, on our way to get coffee for everyone (a journey that took two of us an hour yesterday morning and ended with me getting nothing anyway) I took a wrong (?? I never end up going the same way and using the same path to get where I’m trying to go…so who knows if it was actually wrong or merely different) I walked by a door to OUTSIDE. Like, the real outside. I was confused…I hadn’t seen this reality in days. There was a flash of light….and it took me a minute to notice that it was raining. That rain was splashing in the puddles…thunder was growling….and there was lightening. For a minute, I wondered how and why they would make it rain in here. Then I realized that was not ‘in here’ it was out there. It was real rain….and beautiful. I had to open the door and go out (and leave a foot in the door, afraid it might close behind em and I’d never be allowed back inside, which wouldn’t be bad except all of my friends, my cell phone, even my wallet were all inside that place) and feel the heavy air, the rain…..experience the reality of thunder and lightening.
Eventually I had to stop being silly and continue my quest for morning drinks and a working room key (mine deprogrammed itself). I tried to call the front desk for a key that worked but was told I had to come down in person to get that. So I made it stop one on my morning routine.
The front desk is probably a mine and a half away, if you don’t get lost. In other words, a good morning walk for me. I get there, find someone who says she’ll help me in a minute….then am told that I can’t have a room key. It has to be the person paying for the room (who happens to be soundly asleep in said room). Great. This means I will have to wake someone up to let me back in, since I don’t have a working key.
Yesterday, two of us decided to skip the concert of the evening. We were overstimulated and decided that while the other two went….we’d crash in the room and eat chocolate cake. We returned to the room, chocolate cake in hand to discover we had no forks.
There’s a problem. If we went out to get forks, would we find them? Would we get lost, and not make it back in time for the next show? That’s a risk you don’t want to take right there.
I remembered something I’d seen in the elevator that day. A little sign saying “Do you need help? Just push the ‘Consider it Done’ button on your phone…and it will be done!” There was even a little smiley face. The familiar yellow one….the one you trust.
Hello genie in a bottle! Bring me some forks! I pushed that smiley face button on the phone and asked for a new room key last night (no, sorry we can’t do that) and then asked for forks. There was a request she was willing to grant.
In a few short minutes there was a knock on the door. I was expecting a maintenance person, or a maid, with a few plastic utensils, on their way to somewhere else.
Instead I found a tall man, in a regal uniform, with a tray of silverware. “May I come in?” he said…
My thoughts were….”Oh crap. I’m gonna have to tip this guy. Do I have any cash?!?!?”
I found a dollar and looked up at him as he set down the tray of supersized eating utensils he turned to me with a bill. A bill for $3.50 for his services in bringing me forks. I rented some forks.
Luckily….the cake was really good. Almost worth the indecency of renting a fork to eat it with.
Before I gave up the idea of trying to get where I was going (I’m usually the one that knows where we are, how to get there, etc) I led our group on a walk through a forbidden hallway filled with junk, offices, lost and found bins, etc. It was clearly NOT a place that we should have been, but in my mind….it should have connected us with our room. Eventually, it did (yes, I made these girls stick out the quest in my effort to not be wrong) but after that, I gave up trying to know which way to go to get where I am supposed to be. I’m just perpetually shocked that after wandering for a set amount of time, I look up and we just happen to BE in the place we need to be and I wonder “how did we get HERE?”
I know they can’t have this conference in a great big church somewhere…it’s non-denominational, and you just know that someone would say “…but I’m not BAPTIST! I’m can’t go to a conference in a BAPTIST church” (or whatever) and miss this awesome opportunity. But I would much prefer it to being here.