In addition to spending hours and hours in my bear-man cave in my garage at home, I’m also part of another kind of shredding. The faith community where I work is moving. We’ve been in our until-very-recently location for 3 years and about 9 months. We met in a warehouse in a light-industrial district for 5 years; the first 9 months of that 5-year lease, we spent renovating, fixing up, painting, etc., for our own … idiosyncratic needs. As in, strange artistic interactive experimental worship and concert and gallery formats, as well as letting people come in and start nonprofits or help other folks, and so on. Plus dogs are welcome. So … “normal” church buildings don’t really fit those needs necessarily.
When that 5-year lease was coming to a close, we chose, rather than to sign a lease extension (the landlord was, we felt, unreasonable about the rent, especially given the economic situation at the time) (we had gone through some tough things and a mini-split and those who were staying felt we needed to regroup rather than expand) (sometimes it’s time to leave and reset), to find a simple place to stay a while and reconsider who we were and what our purpose was.
So, we moved. And we remembered.
We rented space from a small church in a different part of town – a church that is “in decline” as church jargon goes – and the private school that meets across the parking lot from that church. It was unwieldy, but it was what we could afford … we didn’t want to get in over our heads financially again …
And what happened was that we downsized, simplified, got quieter, got less outwardly ambitious, and more centered. It was a desert experience in the sense of the Middle Eastern wisdom tradition about the desert, the wilderness: it’s a place of wandering – of discovering – of stripping away – of shredding – of rethinking – of letting go – and that’s how one finds God. The God whom Moses finds in the desert, on a mountain of fire.
To acquire is not how to find this God.
And so it is with great care, and humility, and not a small bit of caution, that in May of 2015 we bought the building we’re in now.
When we are in our centered selves, we are especially careful when we say loaded and potentially hazardous things like “it’s ours.”