Tag Archive: nurturing communities


we [myself, my beautiful wife Val, our housemate Sueihn and my gym and office buddy Coe aka ‘Bubbly’] just got back from a very long trip which involved two twenty-five-plus hour two day road trips on either side of a one day Nurturing Communities conference which lead directly into the Christian Community Development Association [CCDA] annual conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota… what a complete blast.

we had a great time road-tripping up, but it was our decision to take some moments on the way home in particular, to stop and in the absence of any roses to smell, just do some really silly things for good photographing and memoryabilling and so we did…

from upside down white house buildings to giant cow hay bales to halloween head platters to being asked why we climbed the ‘mountain’ with the native american on the horse on it [“it’s dangerous because we haven’t glued the rocks down”] we did a crazy bit of everything and had a LOT of fun…

Coe’s big desire on the way up was for us to take a jumping pic next to a “Welcome to [insert state name] State” board and every time we entered a new state there was a different reason why we missed them and on the way back it looked like the same thing was going to happen [to be honest he spurned the one i offered to stop at because it was not impressive enuff] and so when we hit our state of Pennsylvania on the way home i did a ‘now or never’ and we stopped at the Welcome Centre just inside of the state and took jumping pics near an even crappier sign… mission accomplished.

and then there was Coe’s new friend(s) mr and mrs stick insect hand creatures who at various parts of the trip made an appearance next to him or on both sides of him or occasionally on his head just to keep him on his toes and navigating well [has a bit of a spider underappreciation]

but the point was that life needs to be taken seriously, at all times, but sometimes it is the having fun aspects of life that need to be taken really seriously… we did that a lot and it made the whole trip a lot of fun and bonding and laughing goodness…

thankx team white lightning [our car’s name!] for making it there and back despite creative brake moments, oil light flashings and the dashboard lights pretty much coming on and off at random intervals as they always do…

on the way to the CCDA conference in Minneapolis that a bunch of us from the Simple Way are currently attending, three of us stopped over at a Nurturing Communities event hosted by David Janzen who has just released a book on community and met up with a bunch of people from different intentional communities all over the country and spent a really great day connecting and dialoging and having an opportunity to connect with some of the monks at this incredible place called St John’s Abbey.

the one idea that came out of a few people [and especially from the monks from this 1500 year or more old order] was a concept that i have semi visited sporadically over the last few years in terms of thinking about it but never really written anything on it and that is the idea of STABILITY.

the world as most of us know it is not currently well aligned for the concept – we have become a people of instant gratification whether it be microwaved meals or instant messaging or 2 year stints at a job before changing company or sometimes even vocation and so the idea of sticking with something for a long time does not come as naturally as it once did.

but there is something valuable in STABILITY, well a lot of things, but possibly the most powerful is RELATIONSHIPS.

try as we might by poking and retweeting and being skype-able we have just not been able to come up with instant relationships… well not often, and certainly not effectively. i mean we have definitely given a shot and as witnessed perhaps by a rising divorce or single parent rate the concept of disposability is also something we’ve quickly embraced as opposed to perseverance, hard work and commitment. if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it as Beyonce so famously sang, followed quickly by if you stop liking it then remove the ring and if possible put it on the next person or thing that you like… walk away, don’t look back [remember Lot’s wife] just turn away and keep walking, and then rush to the next thing…

the monk’s take a vow of stability and it was interesting to hear that these Benedicting monks take a vow to the specific monastery as opposed to the denomination or Benedictine group as a whole… so there is commitment to the movement but the specific commitment in the form of a vow is aimed at the specific location [and it is not set in absolute stone and so there are ways to move to another monastery but it is quite a big deal – for the most part it means a commitment for life or a significant portion thereof]

when i think of intentional community and being part of neighborhood change then the idea of STABILITY resonates strongly with me – especially in a neighborhood as transient as ours where many people might be there for six months or less at times – there needs to be some form of stability somewhere to strengthen, encourage and build into those people who do stay longer and might decide [or have it decided for them] to make this place their home.

we look back at something that happened last year and try to speak of the change we see in our community whereas these monks refer to incidents that happened 50 or 100 years ago that helped shape their common life… it is a completely different mindset and one that bears much thought and consideration…

what if more people put down their roots and committed to a specific place and a specific people… or group of people… for ten years or even twenty… what kind of long-term change might be possible then? how much would our focus on the long-term nature of our community and the bigger questions of justice weigh on us?

definitely think this is a topic that demands a lot more thought and conversation…

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