When I lived in Seattle, I used to love spending time in the Green Bean Coffeeshop down the street from my house. The Bean is run by Sanctuary Church, which lives and serves among the Greenwood neighbourhood in Seattle - and it’s become a beautiful place for community in the middle of Greenwood.
But what I really loved most about the Green Bean was that when I spent time there, I could see a little microcosm of my neighbourhood. It was like a little mini neighbourhood study to be there, and it helped me to love my neighbours because I could better understand the diversity of people who lived there.
When we decided to move to Oshawa, I knew that I wanted to find a place like that here. I wanted to find a place I could become a regular, a place that would give me a little snapshot of the people who live and work and play in North Oshawa. So, I’ve been spending a lot of time in a coffee shop called Coffee Culture, located right down the street from the university campus in north Oshawa. It’s got good coffee (…says the coffee snob!), a relaxing atmosphere - and a huge diversity of people. There are always a lot of students who hang out there, since it’s so close to campus, but there are lots of others, too - people who I can only assume are faculty and staff, folks who live in the area, and today there was a group of businessmen in suits having a rather heated talk about something in their workplace that seemed important. And I love that I can sit there for an hour or two, sip my coffee, have a conversation with someone or get some work done on my computer, and learn what it looks like to live and work and play in north Oshawa.
I think it’s so important to begin this journey with a posture of learning. It’s so tempting sometimes to come up with ideas to announce my presence from the get-go, loudly and authoritatively. It’s so tempting to move quickly and set up some kind of program or organization or structure so I can feel like I’m really doing something. But it’s so, so important that I step back and just learn for awhile. That I take a minute (or a month or two or six) to learn how to be a part of life in Oshawa. To learn to love this new neighbourhood and the people that live in it. To wait, be prayerfully patient, and to hold a posture of learning.
So, that’s what I’m doing. Sitting. Praying. Drinking coffee. And learning along the way.