Monday, June 26, 2006

Journey Update

In the days since our last Journey program, I have tried to sit down and write and share what went on. It has not been as easy as I had hoped. Perhaps the reason for that is simply that there is so much that is “felt” by all of us during these three days and words cannot do justice to the essence of grace and unconditional love that seems to permeate the whole of Linwood House. It is the essence of what we do at all times yet somehow The Journey more than any other event makes us all aware of our own vulnerability, and that we are each on a journey to healing and wholeness.

Many of our guests arrived at Linwood House for their first Journey. Leaving their environment on the Downtown Eastside can be very traumatic and so they were in a place of being totally overwhelmed by the drive, the ferry, and the beauty they encountered up here. After settling into their rooms we encouraged them to explore, have a latte, and just get familiar with their surroundings at their own pace. It doesn’t take too long for laughter and camaraderie to begin to emerge. This is a huge breakthrough due to the fact that barriers are rarely brought down when you live in the Downtown Eastside. Barriers that invisibly say “keep out” are firmly in place with those who live in an environment of sheer survival mode constantly.

Our Friends of the Journey who come a long distance to volunteer their hairdressing and makeup services are a great hit and this time we had a friend come from the Interior of BC and lend her heart and her hugs as she painted nails. Our Monday night group of women that gather at Linwood House offered to prepare the meal and serve it. So it gave us a more restful afternoon and a lot of fun as we worked together. After the meal one of our group brought her art supplies and encouraged each one to paint something to represent a special moment in life. The artwork was incredible! Watching the body language say it was safe, they could relax and express something special was amazing.

Perhaps what came to me as I interacted with our friends was that we want to let them know they are beautiful, they have value, and they are worth it to fight for and walk beside in life. Yet as we pour these truths into their lives we are learning to accept them ourselves – to know we too are of value, our life is worth fighting for and having friends walk beside us, and each has their own beauty. We are so much more alike than we are different at our core.

We are all in the image of God who wants to draw us into freedom, love and to experience those unforced rhythms of grace Jesus talks about.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

It is time for our friends to arrive from the Downtown Eastside – vases of fresh flowers are in the bedrooms, the menu is ready, Grandma as filled the cookie tins with fresh baking, and the sun is peaking out from behind the rain clouds of the morning.

The Journey, what we call this program, is always exciting. There are new faces, familiar faces, steps taken, battles continuing and in all of this we see the beauty of these courageous women we are growing in relationship with. Part of the purpose in The Journey is to walk beside our friends as they discover their worth and beauty and begin to see that they have a purpose. Yet this morning as we chatted it was interesting to see that not only are our friends from the Downtown Eastside learning, the team at Linwood House Ministries is learning these values personally, more deeply, in the process.

Partnering is never meant to be an “us and them” work, not is it where one holds power over the other, but rather it is the beauty of working together, learning about and from each other and experiencing the mystery of God’s presence in that process.

One recent retreat was a group that wanted to bring together creative talent in their community, that wasn’t known or expressed in the traditional church worship setting. It was amazing to watch the beauty unfold, but more amazing was the feeling of energy, or honoring each other and the surprises that they received together. Just feeling the Spirit move brought into reality the words Eugene Petersen translated from Matthew:
“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Watching this unfold is an invitation to dance with the Spirit.

Once again, as guests arrive to spend time with us, we are honored to partner with them, with the Trinity and with each other – we will observe the unfolding in each other as the unforced rhythms of grace invite us to step into relationship with each other.

Once again, we are reminded to hold in the Light, those who have been forced into slavery that degrades them, that sears their soul with abuse and bondage and takes away human dignity. We remember them and say a prayer that they will find a safe place and gently be touched by the unforced rhythms of graces that sees beyond the wounds to the beauty that is their true identity.

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