It seems impossible, but here we are in Lent already! So far we've had a fun year. We welcomed a new resident (and said tearful goodbyes to Miranda, who is already at her adventure in London), and have settled into a routine of dinners, activities, and now in Lent, of course, fasting.
Our first guest speaker of the year was the Rev. Sharon Smith, who spoke to us about Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries and how we can support our friends and fellow faithful who struggle with mental illness. In March we will welcome the unparalleled Dr. David Kuhl to talk about end of life issues and spirituality.
We decided to have our own pancake supper on our usual Monday night, so we called it Lundi Gras and cooked up a most scrumptious pile of pancakes. The next day, Haley and Jen came to help Heidi, me, and other members of St. Margaret's and Open Way Christian Community give out waffles on a stick to folks waiting in line at the Food Bank! We had a lot of fun and gave away over two hundred of them! I felt like I would surely dream of endless lines of waffles to be cut, "sticked," and syruped that night...
This weekend we'll be going on retreat at Loon Lake with the new Diocesan pilot program "Prayer without Words," which should be an interesting experience and give us the chance to connect with other folks around the Diocese.
I'm so enjoying the easy laughter of our group, and the way residents support each other. I am so looking forward to the rest of this year.
Winter is definitely here and the house is abuzz with excitement over the new Hineni House Christmas tree, which will be decorated very soon!
Some surprising news we've received is that one of our residents has accepted a very exciting position in the UK! We will miss Miranda very much, but this is sure to be the beginning of an incredible time in her life!
Since she will be leaving us, that means as of January 1st we are going to have a room available! Do consider applying and becoming a part of the Hineni House community!
On Friday October 13th Hinenites travelled to beautiful Gibson's to have a retreat at Consolation House, which is run by Pastor Brian Heinrich and his partner Nathan Strijack working out of their repurposed Orthodox monastery.
We arrived after dark to the peal of the monastery bell and the toasty warmth of the wood-burning stove at Consolation House, which one resident excitedly described as “Instagram worthy.” Our time together began with a wonderful chocolate cake, baked by Heidi, to celebrate Jason Brown's recent successful defense of his dissertation!
In the morning several of us gathered in the tiny Consolation House chapel to have Morning Prayer. We used Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, a wonderful resource put out by members of the new monastic movement. We emerged to an amazing breakfast, only the first in a series of astonishingly generous and delicious meals.
We then gathered downstairs to share our spiritual autobiographies, which all did with sacred honesty and openness. A few tears were shed, and the response in one instance, which left my heart most warmed, was, “You don't have to apologize for your feelings or your tears here.” I have rarely felt so honoured to be among holy people.
After a quick break, we dived into the Gospel of Thomas. I wasn't sure about the biblical and hermeneutical literacy of everyone in the group, so I kept things open by using a Godly Play inspired model of presenting a text (read three times) and asking “wondering questions.”
The following passages were read over the course of the day in three separate sessions, with the accompanying questions asked after each presentation.
Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, 'Look, God's kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, God's kingdom is within you and it is outside you.”
I wonder what God's kingdom is.
I wonder what God's kingdom feels like within a person.
I wonder why people might think that God's kingdom is in the sky or the sea.
Jesus' disciples said to him, “When will the kingdom come?”
“It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look, here!' or 'Look, there!' Rather, God's kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don't see it.
I wonder what God's kingdom looks like.
I wonder why people don't see it.
I wonder why God would spread it out upon the earth.
The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us, how will our end come?”
Jesus said, “Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is. Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death.”
I wonder why the disciples were asking about the end.
I wonder what it means for the end to be where the beginning is.
I wonder what it means to stand at the beginning.
After each presentation, all of us were given the chance to respond in some way. In proper Godly Play style, I asked each person specifically what they would do. Some caught up on their sleep, wrote in journals, coloured some colouring pages I had brought, or went for a walk around the property. There is a beautiful path leading up to a fantastic lookout that several folks enjoyed.
We were treated to a magnificent lunch, and some time with our hosts, who told about their adventures living in the monastery and having guests. We also had a tour of the monastery itself, and got a chance to have Evening Prayer in the chapel. I had brought my harp to lead us in music.
After a scrumptious dinner we had some time to relax and enjoy one another's company. We drank wine and were treated to some guitar and bodhran by residents and Nathan.
In the morning several of us joined Pastor Brian in the monastery chapel for Eucharist. It was wonderful to be together, singing, learning, and feasting. This was a highlight for a couple of the residents.
We ended our time with yet another amazing meal, and finally packed up and headed back on the ferry. The clouds had cleared and we were treated to a beautiful afternoon, despite the heavy traffic!
This was a great opportunity to strengthen our bonds as a community, and I am really looking forward to our next community retreat at Rivendell in May.
Our house is full and autumn has begun – hence, the title of this post.
We have settled on Monday nights as our programming nights and have a wonderful year awaiting us!
Our residents this year have an incredibly diverse array of skills and backgrounds, and it's going to be wonderful to journey alongside them on this path toward deeper relationship with each other and with their spirituality.
Our House Blessing was September 10th and saw Hineni House hosting St. Margaret's coffee hour. We walked through the whole house and extended good wishes, health, peace, and wholeness to all who lived in and were welcomed into Hineni House. We have since had several dinners and perhaps the most constant guest among us has been laughter. I think that's a good sign.
Although the year's calendar is still being finalized, we are looking forward to quite a few adventures in the immediate future, like:
Our retreat, October 13th to 15th, where we will explore the Gospel of Thomas on the beautiful Sunshine Coast.
A visit from Bishop Melissa of the Diocese of New Westminster on October 30th, where she will talk to us about Benedictine spirituality.
An All Souls Event on November 2nd, where we will have time to reflect on the passing of the year and the memories of those whom we have lost.
In the meantime, I'm personally looking forward to a spectacular autumn full of colour, good food, laughter, and deepening friendships with Hineni House and the people of St. Margaret's Cedar Cottage!
If you are interested in learning more about the house, please drop me a line or catch up with one of the residents at church on Sunday!
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.