Friday, June 27, 2008

A little post-grieving is ok, too, I suppose.

I was just editing a few leftover photos from Jericho Beach, where we used to live, and I got a bit nostalgic. So I'm posting them as part of an out-of-character post-grieving process. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's a new home!

Well, the move went about as smoothly as possible. We had lots of help, especially from Danice's family, who were awesome. Her brothers pulled our couch up over the balcony with a rope! Her mom and dad completely unpacked our kitchen the same day we moved... and that was a real blessing, because I was not in the mood to do that! I inherited a bed from Alberto for free, and he also fixed my bike. What a guy. Jodi, Lindsey, James and Veej also chipped in... everyone was very helpful. I'm grateful, because I felt like I spent most of the time kind of numb, walking from room to room, staring at boxes.

Some things I like about our new place:

-Our bathroom has a red door.

-We have a gas stove! It gets hot and cools down really quickly!

-I get to ride the Skytrain. It makes me feel like a working woman.

-When the sun shines through the leaves outside our bedroom window, it makes a beautiful moving pattern on the floor.

-We have a lot of pots. And a lot of mugs. And a lot of forks.

-There is a cat who used to live here. His name is Jackson. He now lives two doors down, but he still wanders in, hoping to be fed, whenever we leave the door open.

-Everyone on Commercial Drive is a soccer maniac. All restaurants, pubs and coffee shops are tuned into the European Finals.


-There is a Farmer's Market five blocks away, every Saturday morning.

-The passion flowers I bought at the Farmer's Market yesterday. Owning plants (especially the coolest flowers ever, which I deduced after taking my plant taxonomy class) makes me feel like a real adult.

-Meeting neighbors! I've met four already. At my other place, I didn't meet any. Admittedly, I'm trying harder now.

-One of my neighbors, Len, enjoys working on motorcycles, on his front lawn. You can hear him revving the engines a lot. When he's not playing the flute...

-Being able to leave doors open without worrying about animals (or insects!) coming in. Except Jackson.

-The balconies! Especially the front one. Oh man. It is the bomb. We've already put a string of lights on it. It's the best hang-out spot. I'm going to sleep on it one night this week, I think.

-I shaved 25 minutes off my commute to work. I can even bike to work now that my bike is fixed!

-Roommates who aren't insane! Well, maybe a little bit.

-Having a kitchen table.

The day after we moved in, it was Car Free day on Commercial Drive. It was like the whole neighborhood got together to celebrate our arrival! It reminded me of the Fringe Festival, but 10 times bigger and weirder. Lots of street vendors, crazy acts, live music, people in costumes, and drumming circles. It was a blast. I especially loved watching one band. They're called the Carnival Band, and they rock. They are a ragtag collection of brass and percussion players with varied backgrounds and abilities (no auditions!), and they have more fun than any band I've seen. They dress up in crazy clothes and march around and play each other's drums and walk right up to members of the audience and they have nothing in common with each other except that they play for the joy of it. I found a video of them playing on the Skytrain... in case you want to see them (or the Skytrain!).

I also checked out the free stage at the Vancouver jazz festival on Saturday... oh man. I love the Saskatoon jazz festival, I think it's awesome, but the free stage in Vancouver is something else. I would have paid to see most of those bands. Especially the 11-piece Cuban salsa band in the evening... the whole crowd was dancing! Including me. At least I was trying. I've decided that I'd like to marry a Cuban.

To sum it all up... I'm loving summer in Vancouver, summer in my NEW HOUSE!

P.S. The sermon I preached last Sunday on the conversion of Saul (and Ananias!) went well, I think, despite the craziness of the weekend. If you have 25 minutes and you want to listen, you can find a recording here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

On Pre-grieving and Inscapes

I should be writing my sermon for Sunday, but I figured I'd start with a blog entry this morning, to get the writing juices flowing, and to empty my head of some other thoughts that are crowding out the sermon thoughts!

We're moving to Commercial Drive in three days, and I find myself growing nostalgic already about the place we're leaving behind. I've always been annoyed by this quirk of mine... I tend to get reflective, sad, and even homesick BEFORE leaving a place or person. Soon after I leave, these feelings pass, and I adjust to the change quite quickly. When I shared this with Jodi last week, she called it "pre-grieving", and she said that some people are "pre-grievers" and some are "post-grievers". This has been a real revelation for me. Now I'm trying to embrace the pre-grieving process, instead of being angry at myself for "ruining" the last few days I have here by being overly melancholy.

So, a little pre-grieving, blog-style. People who know me well know that what I will miss most about this place is my Rock. Only a couple of days after arriving in Vancouver in Sept. 2005, I discovered the Rock and started visiting it every morning (here's the first blog entry I wrote about it). I'm a morning person, and I've always liked starting the day with God, and I've always liked doing it outdoors, if possible. There are a lot of places that have become meeting places. At our old house in Saskatoon, it was up in the treehouse in the backyard. When I lived at our family's current house in Saskatoon, it was the hill in the park. At camp, it was the secret patch of moss in the woods. But the Rock, my Vancouver spot, became the pinnacle of the meeting places. It's a semi-private place on the beach where God can spread out a whole variety of creatures for me to enjoy with Him. I can sing out loud and usually no one will hear but Him. I have a view of the ocean, the mountains, the city, and the sunrise, and it's only three minutes from my house.

Just recently God gave me a gift that helped in my pre-grieving of the Rock. It's linked to the blog entry I wrote recently about seeing new sides of trees and plants. When I got back from Saskatoon a couple weeks ago, I went down to my Rock as usual, but saw something new. There were bunches of yellow flowers hanging down, like a halo around my Rock. The sun was shining on them, and they were brilliant. I looked around, but there weren't any yellow flowers anywhere else on the beach. I climbed up and sat in my usual spot, and they seemed to surround me, enclosing my spot with beauty. I realized that I'd always noticed the dried-up pods on that hanging bush, but I'd never imagined what the flowers that produced them would look like. I spent much of that morning just looking at them and enjoying them, and watching the lazy bees they attracted.

One of my favorite poets, Gerard Manley Hopkins, talked about the idea of "inscape". He used the word to refer to the deep personality and character of things, often inanimate created things. He would try to use his poetry to "selve" things, to reveal what he saw to be unique in the way a certain tree or a certain rock was created. For me, it felt like the halo of flowers revealed the "inscape" of my Rock. It was as if the created things around that spot always knew it was a sacred place to meet with God, and they were letting me in on their secret, a secret I always knew but could never see physically. I praised God for revealing this hidden reality, and thanked Him for the time He gave me to delight in the fact that we'd really been together, through these three years, in a distinct way, even though I hadn't always realized it.

This morning, at the Rock, I read Psalm 84 - "How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty... better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere." I know the Psalmist was talking about the Temple. I also know (from the theology class I'm currently taking) that the Holy Spirit's presence in me makes God's dwelling place much more universal and less "localized" than it was for the Old Testament people, who lived before Christ sent His Spirit. (I am glad for this, because it means that I don't leave God when I move to Commercial!) But I still understand the Psalmist's longing to meet God in a certain place, a place that becomes holy and sacred ground, a place where the skin between this world and the unseen reality all around it becomes a lot more thin and penetrable. I'm already praying God will show me one of these places, a new place to meet near Commercial. And I'll probably keep coming back to the Rock every once in a while, by bus, or by imagination...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Commercial Drive, here we come!

Great news! After two and a half months of searching, Danice and I (and our friends Lindsey and Lynn) have finally found a house to move into! The house is on Commercial Drive, which is much further east than we are now. This means we'll be closer to downtown, where we work, and further from Regent. But it's on Commercial and 7th, which is two blocks away from Broadway, where the skytrain and express buses stop, so we're within reach of a lot of places.

The suite is a second floor and a loft in a large house. There are only three bedrooms, so two of us will be sharing a bedroom. There are three balconies (!) which I'm stoked about. The living room has a fireplace, and there's an actual kitchen! (We have a very, very small kitchen in our basement suite!)

Two of the best things about this house are the landlords and the neighbourhood. We've had such excellent landlords at our current house, and as we searched for a new house, we encountered a lot of landlords who seemed much less friendly. But the young couple who are renting out our new place are very friendly. They live on the main floor of the house, and they're excited about gardening with us in the backyard, and getting to know us better. Really, who wouldn't want to get to know us? :)

And the neighbourhood... what can I say about Commercial Drive? I guess for my Saskatoon friends, the closest description would be Broadway to the power of a thousand. Although "the Drive" started out as Vancouver's Little Italy, it's now a very racially diverse community - most of Vancouver's best ethnic restaurants are there. Within a couple of blocks, you can get Belgian fries, Italian gelato, Ethiopian, and Jamaican food. There are tons of independently-owned coffee shops. (Danice is very excited about this). There are dogs everywhere. (Danice is also very excited about this.) Ever since I did a project on a church on Commercial Drive in my first year here, I've always felt like I "fit in" there. I don't know what that means, because the stereotypical Drive resident would be a bike-riding, dog-owning, granola-eating, dreadlocked (or at least matted, greasy haired), baggy-clothes-made of-hemp-wearing, pot-smoking, Birkenstock-sandaled, green-party-supporting, chickens-in-the-backyard, belly-dancing, gender-not-always-crystal-clear person. But really, no one fits that stereotype. Everyone is eclectic. Case in point... as I sat in the Belgian fry place once, I saw a very tall Scandinavian man with a shaved head wearing a baby blue sweater with the name "Dusty" stitched in near his shoulder, walking hand in hand with a MUCH older Asian woman.

Really, even though people argue that it's getting more "trendy" and yuppies are starting to move there to be cooler, it still feels like a place where people are proudly "themselves." Perhaps obnoxiously themselves. They wear less make-up than people in Kitsilano. They don't care as much when their kids cry in public. They freely talk to people who are weird in different ways than they are weird. I think that's what I'm drawn to - it's a place where I want to be myself, too, even if I don't smoke pot. I will be a proud non-pot-smoker. And I'm looking forward to a fresh chance to actually get to know people in my neighborhood, to support a few local shopowners to the point that they know my name, and to be generally more 'present' in my community, which is something I think I haven't done well here in Kitsilano.

And I'm stoked about learning to be more hospitable, taking more ownership of a place, cooking in a normal-sized kitchen and enjoying it, and inviting people over to eat and sit on the balcony!

You can pray for me in the next couple of weeks though... we have to pack and move, and I also need to write a sermon, because I'm preaching on the 15th at Kits Church for the first time, a day after we move! Lots to do, and very little time. But it's an exciting time. God is providing for me, answering prayers right and left.