Monday morning I realised that housekeeping had not provided those charming little shampoo bottles. Awkward. So on my way out, I asked at the front desk if they could just make sure to provide one today.
Coming home last night, I'm surprised there's any room in the bathroom. They gave my roommate and I 4 bottles of shampoo. 4 more of conditioner. An extra 2 stacks of towels. We're in an unexpected abundance!
The rest of Monday was like that. I had high expectations, and there was an unexpected abundance - of time, of conversation, of possibility, of God's grace.
The morning commenced with a visit to the Canadian Permanent Mission the UN. We had an unusually long appointment booked with Mr. Cameron Jelinski, First Minister (Human Rights and Social Affairs), Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations. Most missions, if they are even willing to meet with NGOs, grant meetings in 15-minute increments; the Canadian mission offered an hour.
Putting together our group was delightful; our group of Anglicans included Canadians and those from the Communion delegation (some who had never before met with mission representatives, and some who were unable, for a variety of reasons, to meet with their own missions). We had time to bring forward a variety of concerns and discussion topics; Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), migrant compact, complimentarianism with the refugee compact, indigenous rights, MMIWG and UNDRIP, climate change, and of course human trafficking.
We shared ideas back and forth, how these issues affect women and girls in rural areas in disproportionate ways, updates on what was happening, how Canadian Anglicans can get involved in practical ways, and so on. We referenced the positive role that religion lays in the fabric f our society. It was inspiring.
We discussed the language of the most recent revision of the Zero Draft document (the document the commission is negotiating, with the aim of having agreed conclusions by the end of the week, to help inform and influence national policies in the 193 UN member countries. We also had opportunity to share concerns and perspectives from a variety of contexts; from our various home countries.
Minister Jelinski was gracious and delightful; living up to the reputation of the Canadian Missin as the 'gold stadard' of mission visits. He deeply respected our opinions and offerings, he took notes, he thanked us for the input, he indicated that it was stories like ours that reminded the negotiators that the words on the draft documents (and ideally agreed conclusions) are not an academic exercise, but aspects to have a meaningful impact on the lives of countless women and girls.
In the end, Mr. Jelinski had provided us an unexpected abundance of attention and concern and time; we were with him for over 90 minutes.
The other discussions and sessions of the day continued to address ways in which NGOs are active in advocacy, and ways in which civil society has an abundance of ways in which to make a difference in the world. We are challenged to be careful in our choice of words, and intentional in our use of position, and confident in use of voice. We have an abundance of resources, sometimes we need to ask for them, and sometimes we need to take advantage of them.
I simply hope that we can engage with the abundance before us. Like the shampoo bottles, we can be surprised by what opportunities are presented to us to engage in the efforts towards gender equality. May we appreciate the unexpected abundance of possibilities, and delight in the reality of responding appropriately, as people of faith. Perhaps if we don't see an abundance, we need to look harder. And, if we still do not see an abundance, we need to be the ones to create and share an abundance - of good works, of active faith, and of joy in the Lord.