Skip to main content


This is another journal entry in response to some reading I am doing for my Christian Spirituality course.

Of the four essential disciplines that Rolheiser mentions in chapter three, the one that appeals to me most is also the one that challenges me the most. The first "pillar," private prayer and personal morality, has been an integral part of me for pretty much my entire life and though these healthy habits are not always easy, there is a consistency and rhythm in that area that comes from long practise. The second, social justice, is something that, though definitely of great importance, does not tug at my heart strongly. As to the third item, mellowness of heart and spirit, most days I am grateful and not prone to anger or malice or anxiety.

However, the fourth discipline, community life, can be quite a challenge, especially for an introvert. My favourite sentence in this whole chapter comes from page 69: "Schleiermacher pointed out that, separate from historical religion, namely, the churches with all their faults, the individual in quest of God, however sincere that search, lives the unconfronted life." (Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing, 69)

I find it easier to be right than wrong. I find it easier to hang with good friends of like interests than make an effort to include the people on the fringe. I find it easier to sit at home and read a book than to call a friend who needs help and encouragement. I find it easier to see the shortcomings of others than to take a good, hard look at where I treat others with injustice or a lack of kindness. I find it easier to deal with my inadequacies and issues myself than to live and learn my life lessons in a community setting. Me and Jesus have a pretty good thing going, and sometimes I find it bothersome to include others in that equation - it just gets too messy.

But in some inexplicable way, I have come to love this unlikely community that I find myself a part of at Vineyard Montreal. More than just a group of people from various countries and walks of life, these human beings have become my family. Some I love so hard that it hurts to be apart from them. Some I find annoying and immature at times (like a younger sibling), but I still want to keep them close. Some get angry at me and say hurtful things, but there is always a place for them in my life and in the group. We listen to each other. We ask each other hard questions. We go to each other's homes. We eat and drink and pray and play together. We celebrate birthdays, holidays and achievements together, and we commiserate over bad days at work, exams, and relationship disappointments together.

I do not want an unconfronted life, comfortable as it may be. I believe I would find it altogether boring and dissatisfying. Having been a witness to and a participant in the beauty of personal metamorphosis, I would not trade one day of itchy, ill-fitting, chafing community life for the static monotone of a carefully constructed and self-controlled environment. Community life is messy, but growing, changing things usually are. I believe that this seedling desire to be part of a vibrant group of people that live with their lives touching each other is one of the greatest gifts I have received in Montreal.

This is a picture of Montreal taken last summer - lot of green stuff growing.


Shelley said…
sounds awesome. and I agree, it is one of the greatest gifts.

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.


When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

comedic timing

One of my favourite jokes goes like this:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting cow
Interrupting cow w---

Timing is important in both drama and comedy. A well-paced story draws the audience in and helps it invest in the characters, while a tale too hastily told or too long drawn out will fail to engage anyone. Surprise - something which interrupts the expected - is a creative use of timing and integral to any good story. If someone is reading a novel and everything unfolds in a predictable manner, they will probably wonder why they bothered reading the book. And so it is in life. Having life be predictable all of the time is not as calming as it sounds. We love surprises, especially good surprises like birthday parties, gifts, marriage proposals, and finding something that we thought was lost. Surprises are an important part of humour. A good joke is funny because it goes to a place you didn't expect it to go. Similarly, comedic timing allows something unexpected …

singing lessons

When I was a young child, a visiting preacher came to our country church. He brought his two daughters with him, and before he gave his sermon, they sang beautiful duets about Jesus. They had lovely voices which blended well. The preacher, meaning to impress on us their God-given musical talent, mentioned that the girls had never had any singing lessons. The congregation nodded and ooohhed in appreciation. I was puzzled. I didn't understand how not learning was a point of grace or even pride. After all, people who have natural abilities in sports, math, writing, art, or science find it extremely helpful to study under teachers who can aid them in their development and introduce them to things outside their own experience. Being self-taught (though sometimes the only option available to those with limited resources) is not a cause for pride or celebration. Why? Because that's just not how the communal, relational Creator set things up.

I have been singing since I was a child. …