Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Peeling back the layers ... adding to the stories ...

Work in Highland Grounds future homes continues in fits and starts. Last week the wiring and the plumbing was transforming the former Hardware Store (it has been a hardware store since Mr Duncan first turned the key in the 1930's), into a community place to gather, enjoy a coffee or tea, and just hang out ...

At times it seems infuriatingly slow, while other times I feel breathless trying to catch up to what is happening. This morning my cell phone rang to tell me, via a phone tag relay, that a semi was sitting out front wanting to drop something off ... I returned home to find a Facebook update about the truck blocking downtown Flesherton (for those who haven't been here - a semi parked awkwardly on the road in downtown Flesherton pretty much blocks about 1/3 of the downtown!!!) The joy of Small Town Life!!!

In time, we'll look back on this busy, chaotic, hectic, frustrating and bizarre chapter with fondness. When the key officially turns on the grand opening of this long awaited coffee shop, it will be with great joy that we embark on this new chapter ... In the meantime, I find myself periodically overwhelmed with the events happening around me, and so I have to pause and seek a quiet place to find my centre again.

Last week one afternoon I went into the shop and surveyed all that was happening and sat down with a notebook and a pen and wrote the following reflection on where things are at, and what is happening. Amidst the new roughed in walls, the piles of furnishings, equipment and other assorted assundry, and with exposed bricks that have not seen the light of day in 80 years, I thought about what was unfolding and penned these words that I would like to now share:

Ah, the smell of freshly cut timber, the twang of new plumbing, and the chemical scent of wiring and other assorted stuff that goes along with renovations ... 

All around me are the very obvious signs of something new coming into being. 

Piles of furniture awaiting their final placement. Vanities, sinks, toilets and assorted assundry waiting for their installation.

Paint, rollers, brushes and tarps, bare stud walls, exposed wiring and new plumbing. 

Simultaneously, this venture that will be Highland Grounds is both exciting and terrifying. I've only dreamt of such an undertaking, I've never truly envisioned doing it. Yet here we are in the middle of making it happy. 

Like a mythic phoenix rising from the ashes of what once was, this simple coffee shop (Highland Grounds) is emerging from the last 36 months of transition, loss, grief and struggle. It will not replace what has been, but will open a new chapter of what WILL be. 

After a half a dozen long years of life bouncing from place to place, and wondering where I fit in with my life and ministry, I feel blessed and privileged to find myself in a place that feels right, and that has supported and encouraged me in dreaming beyond the mundane of this moment. 

As I stand, or rather sit on a wooden stool, in the middle of this work space - the renos begun - the bones of what will be in place - I realize that this Tent Making (to use a Biblical Allusion) is more than just a new job or a new business venture. 

It is a new expression of ministry, it is a form of outreach that embraces many of the values people of faith and people with a deep spirituality hold but have failed to find in the confines of Traditional Church. 

The very nature of Fair Trade, is about JUSTICE and helping people realize their full potential economically and socially. On a more local scale, the very act of pouring a cup of coffee, and offering the gift of hospitality is the very foundation on which our culture and our faith rests. 

The centrality of the kitchen table began with the hearth of the First People, continued in the settlers cabins with the rough hewn boards slapped together and standing before the warm wood stove, and it continues to the islands, tables and and counters around which much of the life within our homes focuses. 

The kitchen is the very heartbeat of our homes, and the kitchen table is where our family sits in fellowship, and offers hospitality to friends, strangers and even foes without hesitation. 

In recent days, I've come to realize how deeply imprinted the actions of my Great-Grandmother (a resident of Grey County) are impressed in my being. Our visits to the farm house just outside of Desboro were marked with an abundance of coffee, tea, juice and an INCREDIBLE assortment of baked goodies that seemed ENDLESS. 

Looking back, I remember the barn, and the outbuildings, the apple orchard and the path out to the woodlot, but I have NO MEMORY of the house itself beyond the kitchen!!!

We visited in the kitchen with its table and chairs and Uncle Newt's couch under the window looking out to the road. 

The kitchen was the very heart of the home, and it was where Grandma Cain offered her hospitality in ABUNDANCE!!! 

It is my hope, and dream that Highland Grounds will become the kitchen table for Flesherton, Eugenia, Ceylon, Maxwell, Priceville, Feversham, Proton Station, and beyond. 

 Like the many kitchen tables, and the table that sits central in the life and ministry of every Church, our tables will be where friendships are nurtured and forged, where life is discussed and shared, where the world's problems are solved with some simple common sense, and conversations about everything imaginable are exchanged and encouraged. Highland Grounds is about building community and seeking justice, and caring for one another ONE CUP OF COFFEE AT A TIME!!! 

I hold no illusions that this will be easy. But I know in the core of my being, that like everything in ministry, it will - looking back - be rewarding and joyous. 

Soon the coffee will be ready, and the mugs will be filled in the name of Community, and ALL will be WELCOME !!!! 

Join us !!!


AuntE said...

I plan to come visit before the year is out!

AuntE said...

I plan to come visit before the year is out!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful ministry Shawn. I wish you all the best. I know how much this kind of project will mean to a small town.

I think the thing about renovation projects that I find the MOST spiritually uplifting is when a group of people come together and work on the project together. That to me creates a lot of community.

You are definitely on the right track in my mid when you say this place is to be someplace where all are welcomed and valued.