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Monday, October 02, 2006

 

Urban Monastery

You can now view more about my life as an Englishman in a Canadian monastic community at the Urban Monastery website, click here

Thursday, August 31, 2006

 

Journey of the joy in mornings

As many of you know, mornings have never been my favourite time. I have for years been a night owl, but over this last year God has been taking me on a journey to appreciate the morning, I am now in a more healthy less begrudging place when I surface. Last year on Transit (a year long discipleship course with 24-7 Prayer) I learnt to let God discipline me to ‘do mornings’, coming back into this community house here in Calgary I am now finally getting into a place of enjoying the morning and appreciating it. The year of discipline I believe has led to a joy being born.

My mornings here are developing as some of us get up to pray at 6:30 am for prayer every morning. We are now a month into our Urban Monk living and this is the year of grace for us as we form our identity and work out what our rhythm and discipline will be. Last week I returned from the UK after a 2 week visit for our International 24-7 Prayer meetings. So out of the first month of this life together I have really not been part of the 1st month, however last week we started as a community to gauge somewhat of a rhythm. We all sat down in the evening together for meals and prayer happened in the house. There is still much to be carved out of life here in this place, but at least we have made some sort of a stab at it.

As I walked back this crisp snowy morning from the swimming baths, I reflected on the fall getting close to ‘fell’ as the leaves are crisping up before falling off the tree later this week beckoning in winter. God reminds me about joy in all seasons. Yesterday, Andrea, one of my housemates said to me ‘
‘You’ve had it good, you’ve had the finest summer we’ve had here in Calgary in years and now you’re encountering the sharpest colours fall have given us in a lifetime too’

So as the winter draws near, I’m conscious to pray God would you let there be a deep-seated joy in me this winter, let me enjoy all the seasons.

So I leave you with one thought and ask for you to join my prayer for snow this Christmas here for my family and me, as my parents and brother and sister-in-law join me here.

Monday, August 21, 2006

 

Messing About (Aboot) in The River


So yesterday, on my Sunday, I took to the river with my friend Jamie Mc Mechan. It's quite a standard weekend hobby here in Calgary to take to the river to 'float' or 'tube', to sit back and relax and enjoy the sunny weather.

With precision we worked out our trip, we managed to drop a car off at the end which we left a towel for each of us and then headed to get our life jackets and paddles and then drove to our starting point. We started at 5:30 at Bowness Park, the idea being that we wanted to finish our journey at sunset. This was our first ride on the Bow which is tame, but we knew that we'd get to ride one rapid just by the downtown.

the journey took us on water that managed to swish us along at a few km per hour and also just seemed at places to not go at all, we sat back eating chips wishing we'd brought the beer and cigars with us. At times we prayed on the trip, other times we had nothing to say to one another. I really appreciate Jamie's friendship. He's a guy who I admire for his faith and his foot in reality. It's great to hear of his passion for his new college course starting in the fall and to hear his experience of community living.

Before I came to Canada, I spoke at my church commissioning service about the need to individually ride in my coracle like Brendon setting off for the Americas. I knew I was saying goodbye to a continent, but I didn't fully know where this journey was taking me. Was it to be rough waters, a mill pond, or was I going to find a bigger vessel to hop onto? I was reminded of this message of the future mystery of our journey. Sometimes I wonder as Christians whether we've become more risk aversed as we sometimes think to sit and wait for heaven and yet Faith is an adventure anything but the safe waiting to be whisked off to heaven. I look at Paul and think of his shipwrecks and prison time and am amazed at his journey.

So to the journey that I'm on. As Jamie and I tied on, our two boats coalescing together from 30 minutes into our ride down the Bow river, I start to think that this is a glimpse at our next year. In just over two weeks time we shall be moving into our community house to start a rhythm of prayer. Still there is lots left that is unknown but as we journey we shall ride the rapids together, take the current together. The river will probably have us spinning at times and other times some of us will provide shelter from the waves for the other, but one thing remains; that God will be with us as we step out.

Monday, August 14, 2006

 

Broken


The longer time gets the more I realise that it is in my brokeness that Christ works. I've been currently reading Watchman Nee's 'The Release of the Spirit' with a group called Church of the Forgiven here in Calgary. This group meets every night at a 24-hr cafe to pray, talk about what God is doing in their lives and connect with those others in the cafe. It's an incredible environment which houses people trying to stop themselves from drifting into temptation. The cafe holds an AA meeting and lots of other people just trying to stop themselves from falling. It's what I guess in some ways church should be doing, except that this place just feels like a holding place and so God's presence can really fill the void and let people have hope and dream again.

Anyway, Dave the guy who started the group there through some prophetic evangelism asked me if I would join these guys. Dave is probably one of the true friends I have since coming here and he's great and yet also so aware of how broken he is. I too, am a broken man struggling to get home. This book has been a great one letting us get a glimpse of insight as to what God wants to do in us and through us. I think some of this journey can be summed up by a song called Broken Stones by Paul Weller.


'Like pebbles on a beach
Kicked around, displaced by feet
Like broken stones - all trying to get home.
Like a loser’s reach
Too slow & short to hit the peaks
So lost & alone - trying to get home.

As another piece shatters
Another little bit gets lost
And what else really matters - at such a cost?

Like a loser’s reach -
Too slow & short to hit the peaks
So lost & alone - trying to get home.

Trying to get home -
Like broken stones - all trying to get home.'

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

 

House Ramblings


So I was looking online at this site called rentfaster.ca, where one can look for different rental properties and I find this one labelled 'Executive House' 4 Bedroom, $4200CDN a month! (a wee bit pricey for us) I was intrigued by it's location as it was the closest house to downtown that I could find on the internet, so I thought I'd take a look at the details, even if it was wishful thinking. So then under the details there's a hyperlink saying 4 Bedrooms, plus 4 possible bedrooms that are used as office, and nursery. So I then realised that this place could house us all. Even so, it's still out of our budget of $4500 including utilities.

I rang them up to arrange a viewing. So Jamie, Sherry Victor, Nolan and myself look around this place. One other thing that intrigues me was that on the advert it said close to active church of Scarboro United. We pitch up, and the lady to show us around is there, slightly bemused by 4 young adults coming to view an executive house. She asks us what' our story? To which we reply that we're part of a house church who want to live in community together! Still very unsure of this, she tells us that she's part of the local church. She's helping out her friend to rent the place out. Her friend Cindy, who owns the place, now lives in Edmonton. Cindy used to attend Brentview Baptist which Epic was part of in it's infancy. So we look around the place and don't mention much, say thanks to Glori-Jean who's shown us around and then head out to the park opposite to talk. We then decide to pray, we can see that this place could work as it's close to downtown and yet a safe neighbourhood, which doesn't particularly interest Jamie or myself. We asked God to give us an idea of guidance on the place.

Two hours later I receive a phone call from Cindy, the owner. She wants to know who we are and some more details. She also wants to cut a bargain. So I tell her that we're a Christian group looking for somewhere etc. She then says that she used to attend Brentview. She comes at me with the question, 'so how would nine of you live in the 8 bedroom house.' I then tell her that it's our intention that we share rooms, Jamie and Me in one, Pam and Sherry another and RJ and Nolan another. So I get the response I was expecting, 'guys and girls in the same house', an uneasy tone in her voice. She wonders what we're about and whether she can let this happen. I then tell her that as we looked around the building we were trying to work out whether the guys could go on one floor, with the girls on another. Plus I said with 4 Bathrooms in the property there's safety too. Good old North America. So she then says 'wow, that's great', clearly pleased by my diplomatic response and caution in my voice. She then proceeds to say 'well I don't have a problem with that'. She then said, that she wanted to cut a deal to be able to use the Basement from time to time. She'd be prepared to drop the rent and include utilities as long as she could furnish the basement. We could use it still, but not always. I said wow, as we weren't sure we could meet the amount needed for rent.

She then asks who we are and what we're about. So I tell her a bit about our dream of a community house and about prayer for the city, about our values. She's astounded! Last week after putting the property up for rent in June, she and her husband turned to prayer to ask God for someone to rent it, but that it would be a blessing to someone. She then tells me that the place has been a great place of peace and joy for 3 years for her family. The previous tenants also had 40 years of blessing and before that the kid that grew up in the house became a catholic bishop. She said I know this house is meant for God.

The next day she rang back to give us the price, 4000 a month including utilities, free phone to US+Canada, and Cable TV. Plus she then says if you want to have people to stay in the guest suite when she's not using it, then that's fine. At which I said that was one thing I was going to ask as we're about hospitality and would love to have a place for people to stay. She responds by saying I'm all about hospitality, it's one of my primary gifts.'

So the following week we realise the gift from God this is for us and all take a step in faith to sign our contract to move into a community house of prayer starting September 1st 2006

Saturday, October 29, 2005

 

One Art?

I went to see a film entitled 'In Her Shoes' tonight. A couple of key moments in the film involved poetry. One such poem is One Art by Elizbeth Bishop.

A couple of lines in the poem got me going as I consedered some of what I will lose when I come to Canada next year. Friends and family have always been of major importance to me and yet I can so often be like the message that sometimes come up on my wireless 'limited or no connectivity'. So here over this next year is an attempt to connect to those whom I love, to communicate to you more.

The thing of looking at poetry made me question where I am at with poetry as a creative form in my own life. So I thought I'd write my own bit of poetry to try and convey myself.

The Great Divide

I once was a poet
I've just recalled that I knew
1+1 =3 with no tick
Forced me so quick
To think around and through and accumulate, accrue

Building a tower was all the rage,
But something far more ornate, would surely satisfy?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

 

Pressing the Escape button



First of all I have to confess that one of the details of yesterday's blog was a tad inaccurate. The prayer written saying 'Love God not money' was as I said a childlike prayer and that is because I found out later that it was written by Dan Schoester's son Logan. Not exactly the cool simple revelation from some resident in the Salvation Army centre that I thought it was. Oh well we all make mistakes. I was told though that one of the other little nuggets on the walls was written by this guy who waltzed into the prayer room, wrote a profound statement and waltzed out again. The statement was akin to 'If we have no pain then how do we know that we are in this reality' and then moved onto thank God for the pain. The implications of a statement like that are massive, something so much about God showing us the pain around us that he doesn't want us to just leave and press the escape button.

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