On Saturday, August 28th, members of St. Margaret's and residents of Hineni House had a work party for our church grounds and the lovely backyard at the house, culminating in a backyard Eucharist. It was so special to see everyone in person after only seeing faces in Zoom windows for so long!
I had a real blast poking around the Hineni backyard. I wouldn't say I have a green thumb but I definitely aspire to, and while I love plants and gardening the only space I have of my own at home is a balcony. It's totally different to be able to actually get down into the dirt. Local Metis herbalist and Indigenous plant scholar Lori Snyder told me once that science had shown dirt to have beneficial enzymes that improve not just physical health but our actual mood when we dig around in it! That's why I often forego the gardening gloves!
The backyard at Hineni House, while neatly mowed, has been growing a lot of invasives lately, and I'm in the process of exploring and cataloguing the many plants that are growing there. It's a real playground because it has a wide variety of zones providing different levels of light, from full sun to deep shade. It also has a lot of indigenous plants, even a few with medicinal properties, growing in it that should stay - the world needs far more gardens that allow for the growth of indigenous plant life.
As I pruned back the many MANY blackberry tangles (don't worry, the residents enjoyed the best of the crop already!) and the ivy and identified plants unknown to me and began the process of liberating the herb garden from a tangle of weeds, it occurred to me that each person who comes to Hineni is a garden all their own. Within their hearts grow all sorts of different flowers and fruits, and yet for the best variety of life to thrive, all of us know that we need to prune and harvest so that things stay healthy. Living in community is a wonderful way to identify your flowers and fruits, so to speak - together with others, we learn so much more about ourselves than we do just on our own. And of course the more our heart-blossoms are thriving, the more delight God takes in sowing seeds of beauty, joy, peace, and delight.
Blessings on your harvest season! May you sow love and reap joy.
On May 1st we were so happy to host a tea party on Zoom for those who were interested in learning more about Hineni House! It was really fun to be able to meet folks and answer their questions about our home and our program. Our current resident Sarah even took us on a very well-conducted virtual tour!
Most of the questions were ones I knew a lot of people who look into us have, so why don’t I just answer a few of them right here?
1. What kind of time commitment is required?
The main time commitment is one evening a week where we gather for about two hours. When we meet in-person, we have dinner together. When we’re meeting on Zoom, we just have the meeting itself. These meetings are chances to check in as a house, learn about different things, and pray together. Sometimes there’s a week off here and there, but this is the most important time commitment for Hineni residents.
We also do one retreat a year, which we schedule well in advance.
Other time commitments are for the most part casual and agreed upon by residents, e.g. If you’re the kind of person who loves board games and wants a house board game night, feel free to schedule it! Birthdays are often a chance to get together and celebrate as well.
2. The application says you only take students and employed people but I’m currently not working or studying full-time – is that okay?
Yes, this is totally fine, as long as you can pay rent. We are looking for people who have a stable source of income.
3. How are residents dealing with COVID-19? Are there restrictions on visitors? Can partners come over?
This is definitely the kind of thing that must be worked out as a house. All residents have throughout the pandemic followed the government regulation guidelines around guests and gatherings. When restrictions were lifted slightly in the summer of 2020, residents worked together to decide on a safety plan for visitors.
Outside of the context of COVID-19, visitors, friends, family members, and partners are all welcome at the home, including overnight, as long as the other residents are okay with that and as long as there is no interference with programming or life at the house. There are also certain programming evenings where we aim to be more open and allow for non-residents to participate such as times where we host guest speakers.
4. I keep odd hours – is that going to be a problem?
No way, as long as you are considerate of others in the house. We usually observe “quiet hours” between 10pm and 7am where the understanding is that unless everyone is working on a project or having fun together, folks keep the home relatively peaceful so everyone can get the rest they need.
5. Are pets allowed?
We welcome all certified service animals and may be open to small pets that are relatively contained in cages or tanks. At this time we’re avoiding welcoming cats and dogs to be sensitive to applicants who may have allergies.
Hope that helps! Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any further questions!
It’s been a very long time since I last posted, and a LOT has happened since then!
On March 6th, 2020, I arrived with the Rev. Heidi Brear and the four residents of Hineni House at an Airbnb in Garden Bay, Sechelt territory.
Once a year, the whole house goes on retreat somewhere offsite. We’ve been to Rivendell Retreat Centre on Nex̱wlélex̱m (Bowen Island), and Consolation House at Chkwelhp (Gibson's), but in early 2020 we had to think outside the box as we couldn’t get space at a time that worked for everyone. The Airbnb house was perfect for us – large, stunning picture windows, a nice big kitchen for our shared meals, and a walkway down to a stony beach area. We stood there that evening, singing the songs we always sing to mark our time together: “Welcome Here” by Rachael Weasley, and “All Shall Be Well” by the Rev. Andrew Halladay. That day had been perfectly clear, and yet in perfect BC March fashion we woke up the next morning to a light dusting of snow.
We explored the theme of exile and pilgrimage, using a small makeshift Desert Box inspired by the Godly Play curriculum, and guided meditations on three passages: Matthew 4:1-11 (Jesus’s temptation), Exodus 3:1-6 (the story of Moses at the burning bush), and Surah 19, the Qur’anic account of the birth of Jesus, which took place in the desert. As we contemplated this time of exile together, we were more and more unsettled by the news of COVID-19 spreading across the globe and altering our lives. It was strange to watch from our tiny slice of calm as we played music and cooked and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company.
Although I did attend one more Eucharist after that, the retreat felt like the last real in-person event I took part in before the pandemic shut down the world.
Thankfully, that year’s cohort of “Hinenites” (as I affectionately call them) were a deeply bonded group of women who supported each other pretty well over the course of that first year. We were able to switch to Zoom for our weekly gatherings, and it was an okay substitute although we all missed eating dinner together. We had a lot to adapt, but it wasn’t as onerous as it could have been. We had some gatherings in the beautiful backyard once the weather got warmer, and we were even able to do an adapted house blessing with a re-purposed “Beating of the Bounds” liturgy on Zoom that didn’t require anyone to enter the house. There was much to celebrate, mourn, and pray for over that year: losses, wins, pain, laughter, and personal crises were ever-present and monumental, but all through it, the women of Hineni persevered. It reminded me, in a way I never could have discovered on my own, of the huge gift of supportive community, and the strength it brings to so many in times of great hardship.
This year, Hineni House has several spots available, and we are curious about who God might send to us. Our people have brought strengths and growing edges, stories of triumph and trauma, and as many images of the divine as have lived within our sheltering walls. We have been, and are, a home for spiritual wanderers of all stripes: Canadian citizens and immigrants, refugee claimants, queer and trans folks, men, women, and nonbinary people, introverts and extroverts, every number on the Enneagram, every colour and creed.
Maybe we can be a home for you, or someone you love.
Wherever you are and whoever you are on this journey, you are welcome here.
If you're curious about us and want to learn more, consider registering for our Zoom tea party on Saturday, May 1st at 2pm! Bring your favourite drink and snack and join us for a relaxed info session where you can bring all of your questions! Receive a Zoom link by registering here: https://forms.gle/dtvbjov1nWLVC5Sj6
Learn more about us on this website, and be sure to like us on Facebook. You can also contact me, the Rev. Clare Morgan (they/them), community director, at email@example.com
It's September and a brand new year is just about to begin!
We kicked things off with Hineni weekend this past Saturday and Sunday, hosting an intimate gathering of friends and supporters at the house for a fundraiser which included a concert by yours truly as well as lovely desserts made by Rev. Heidi! The house was absolutely sparkling, with beautiful sunflowers laid out on the dining room table and a freshly re-decorated living room with a new reading corner! We are so looking forward to evenings in the new space.
Hineni Sunday was also a blast, with the church packed for Heidi's first day back and our house blessing. I introduced a new prayer activity with a wooden and wire frame on which parishioners and residents hung coloured ribbons indicating their prayers for the year ahead. Afterward we trooped across the street for snacks, coffee, and the blessing. I cannot believe how beautifully decorated the rooms are! We may take some new photos to post on the website. :)
This week we'll have our very first programming session! We've switched our meeting nights to Thursdays and will begin with all of the nuts and bolts of community, eventually transitioning into deeper conversations about how we communicate, our Enneagram numbers, our conflict styles, and how we will offer hospitality at Hineni House.
So far we've done well on the latter! While Hineni weekend was not as massive as we had hoped, our four residents did their very best to create a warm, beautiful, and welcoming place for everyone to enter into. A few weeks ago, we were even able to offer very short-term housing for a prospective resident for next year who came all the way from India!
All of us at Hineni House are excited to begin a brand new year of adventure, introspection, and friendship. Please keep us in your prayers!
About the Authors
The writers of this blog are all the wonderful people who make up Hineni: the residents (or Hinenites!), the workers, the volunteers, and the folks of the St. Margaret's Cedar Cottage Church community.