This week, a reflection
from a recent visit
For the past three weeks, I have been living in Vancouver. A place that in many ways, feels so much like home. I lived there on and off in my twenties as I did graduate work. I also began to go on personal retreats there. I fell apart and began to be slowly reshaped in that beautiful city.
During the time away, I would frequently return. I had dear friends in the area affliated with different places I still had ties to such as my graduate school or a student community house at which I had lived. I continued to make 'spiritual pilgrimages' to the retreat place and to commune with the Divine in a special way outside my normal day-to-day rhythms. Professors began to transition from full-time to emeritus status, friends began to move on, the city changed from the Olympics coming and going, leaving in its wake new buildings and augmented transportation. Yet, in the transition over the years, friendships have deepened, conversations have continued, and richness has been experienced. Not because of the advent of social networks, unless by social networks one means friendship over tea and jam, dinners and desserts, and silence and solace.
One recent afternoon on this trip, a thought bubbled up while walking home, up a hill.
I realized that during the course of those years, I was upheld by six different expressions of Love there: (1) the student community house where I lived that first year, (2) the Mennonite community that cared for that space, (3) the Mennonite/Brethren church that met there on Sundays (which I didn't know until that first Sunday I awoke to four-part harmony resounding throughout the building), (4) the collective graduate college student body, (5) the faculty, professors emeritus, and staff of that graduate college, and (6) the retreat center I started going to (and then returning to). While perhaps I engaged with only a few of these directly, my life inadvertently was cross-pollinated by the love, care, and compassion of all of these communal expressions of Grace Embodied.
As I continued to walk, I noticed an unspoken Gratitude fill my shoes and my being. I smiled as I sat with this experience and the memories, feeling the layers of love underneath me as if they were comfy blankets on a bed.