January has always been a focused time for me. It’s a clean month, a fresh start, an emergence from depressing or gloomy late autumn (the part of autumn long after the leaves are gone, when it’s December, when most of the country is covered in snow, when it’s dark at 3:45, yet somehow it’s still called fall). Despite the gloom, almost overnight, a new sense of life and drive comes.
This week in particular has been full of newness. New experiences that give a person reason to hope, like crocuses in the snow. The first of these was my out-of-the-blue writing contract. Then there was the church-plant finally birthing. And the new class I started tonight.
I expect this year to be full of change, perhaps even turbulent and seemingly risky moves on my part. I’m becoming persuaded, confident that God has given me certain values and skills, and I don’t see why I should go on living a shadowy existence where I cannot BE that person. Where I don’t write anything for myself, because there’s a censor on that voice, a silencer created by the neutral, unoffensive culture that is the public service. Where I don’t even have an artist’s notebook, because I can’t imagine spending time daily, even weekly, working on my art concepts. Recording dreams or things God gives me. Where I write anything meaningful. Where painting is outweighed by TV (and not even good TV, rather, the likes of “blind date” and my current favourite “hot properties!”). All this contradicting what is being birthed through me, what I know to be true, what is being unearthed in my life at a shocking rate.
Besides the artist being birthed, I am part of a new community being birthed in this city. I am fascinated by the stylin’ words being passed around in our conversations, like a joint (I better watch my similes or we will be getting an epistle from the pastor). Emergent church, community, intentional living, otherness, it’s so exciting to feel like we are part of something real: post-institutional, post-denominational (in a sense), post-dogmatic – this revolution, uprising, gang of Christ-followers. But there is always the potential to get hung up in the talk. So what: we’re a bunch of 30-somethings sitting around dipping bread in wine, singing, talking about living – really living – in a way that meets the needs of the other. All this talk is very inspirational (and I mean that), but I’ve been a part of this conversation for about a year and a half – no, really, since about 1997 when I was a teaching intern at Briercrest. Yet after eight years, I am more dependent on the system called our Canadian society than on this thing called community.
So that’s where part of this drive to change my work is coming from. To free up more space to just be alive, and to be with people. Every day. OK, I may be a borderline extrovert, but the revolving door scene would be pushing it. But I want to be free to say yes to people in need, especially with my time. And I want them in my life, challenging my choices. I know that is a strange desire for an adult North American, to have a bunch of people in my face. But I want to see, just once, just one year – 2005, if this community thing really can be done. So hopefully you will hear more about this soon.