Dear Henri, From Desert to Garden – Week 14


Negev Wadi Desert, CC

Dear Henri,

It's been a couple weeks since I've written to you. Part of the blogging experience is the platform one uses sometimes crashes for no apparent reason; and there's nothing one can do until the right tekky-type people fix it.

And then one's younger sister, whose job it is to be the front person for Calgary's Comic & Entertainment Expo, invites one down to the big event. Kind of hard to write when one is amongst dwarves, hobbits, aliens, superheroes, wookies, ewoks, vulcans and…

… did you understand anything of what I just said?

No disrespect intended. I'm only realizing the geek in me is talking, and you might not know geek speak.

I'm here now, trying to bring some routine and flow back to our conversations. I sense it's disjointed — uncomfortable and awkward. Where was my starting point? If I could find that, perhaps I could find a way to begin my year with you anew.

Or should I?

"Instead of running away from our loneliness and trying to forget it or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude. To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude" (Nouwen, Reaching Out, page. 22).

Coming Home's first pilot project has received full funding for the summer. Now the steep learning curve begins. Sure I'm excited that this is finally happening, but the desert is never far away is it? My fear of failure is eclipsed only by my fear of success. I wonder at people's intentions when they ask me about the project. I second guess (and third, fourth and fifth guess) myself over my capabilities to create community with youth the rest of the world seems to want only to program. I chide my own intentions, calling them selfish or self-serving. I hear whispers (or think I do) from dissenters, critics, or theologically-correct pundits of how I'm leading youth astray.

Fear is feasting on me. No famine here. 

Will people see God in me?

What will they do if they don't?

What will they do if the DO?

What can I do to turn people's eyes off of me and back to the Life Giver of Creation?

What can I do to stop trying to do all of this on my strength?

"A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold. When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone. But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself.

That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is like a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world. Nobody can say: “I make God visible.” But others who see us together can say: “They make God visible.” Community is where humility and glory touch."

You're saying I can't make God visible, but in the growth of community the world will see God? Am I hearing you right?

In one way pride gets pricked a bit. I don't want to be just a little stone. Yet in another way it's a sincere relief to know my little stone isn't the entirety of God's mosaic. Just like no person is an island, no one person is an entire mosaic. It takes all of us. We are the humble stones and You, the Magnificent Artist, are the glory. You bring glory to the humble and You are seen when we are humble together.

That's pools full of crazy… but deep, clear pools. Pools that dwell in our deserts of fear and loneliness, where You are working to fill our loneliness with life.

Until next time,



Turning loneliness into watered solitude, & single pebbles into holy mosaics.

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