Monthly Archives: September 2010

plain language

monday couldnt seem to make up its mind on whether or not it wanted to rain. its been pretty wet here as of late, drowning out memories of this past summer’s heat. makes moving a bit easier.  thats right,  im moving again. trading one coast in for another. picking up stakes and heading east to the beautiful shores of nova scotia, where the provincial tree is the mighty spruce and where they came up with the expression ” hey bud”. those facts can be verified on one of the many ‘nova scotia facts’ pages on google. google magic, my friend.

so, halifax is my destination and the place where i will call home for the next while. ive been to halifax all of three times, two times in beautiful summer weather and once during a cold, white winter. unfortunately im heading there as fall is beginning and winter is looming in the distant horizon above the atlantic. time to buy a pair of long johns.

so in moving ive had to resign at the shelter. bittersweet but thats life.   i did get to write my first ever resignation letter though. ive quit many a job before but never with a formal letter. none of my previous jobs ever meant enough to me to sit down and compose a letter stating why im leaving and appreciation for my employment. all those other jobs were just places to work where i provided a service and got compensated appropriately. punch in, punch out. the shelter was different. much different.  maybe some of you can relate.

i wrote two resignation letters, actually. the first one was the lengthy one where i said a bit more than ‘thanks’ and ‘au revoir’. the second one was the shorter of the two and the one i ultimately sent. im still second guessing and kicking myself a bit for not sending the first and more honest resignation letter. while the letter i sent sounded appropriate and polite it certainly lacked the punch the first one had. see, ive been known to write some hasty things. writing from emotion is a double-edged sword that ive cut myself on more than i choose to admit. it was with this bit of self-knowledge that i kept back the letter i really wanted to resign with. playing it safe, i guess.

in the spirit of not playing it safe, im going to resign all over again right here.

ahem..

___

it is with great reluctance that i am writing this letter. my time at first united has been an invaluable experience and one which i will not soon forget, but i have decided to resign and pursue an incredible opportunity with a new church in halifax, nova scotia.

while its not my intention to cut down or malign the stated purposes and vision of first united, i believe it is my place to humbly offer my views of how these are being accomplished within the downtown eastside community, as i have been part of this community for awhile now.

what is love? is it feeding someone a meal when they are hungry? is it giving them proper clothes when they dont have any? is it giving them shelter when they have no where else to go? these things are all loving actions but they are not love itself.  love wants the best for someone else, regardless of what that looks like for yourself. often times real love is tough and difficult.  you have to make hard decisions that you might not want to make but you do because you love.   its tough stuff.   i found all too often that the policies governing first united were more of the soft love variety, not the tough stuff.  the policies put in place to keep the community as inclusive as possible usually ended up marginalizing other members of the community.  soft stances on drugs, violence and crime has made the shelter a joke to those that abuse its power.  allowing individuals to get away with whatever they do doesnt create a safe environment nor a healthy community.  like most practical philosophies, inclusivity has its limitations.  i stand by my belief that there is such a thing as too inclusive.  whether the leaders of the shelter recognize this fact or not is not for me to guess, but as the famous saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. tough love sets solid policies so that a healthy community can grow and hopefully flourish. soft love (no real love at all, in my opinion) tries to accommodate everything and anything, allowing people to live lives without accountability and thus no responsibility. instead of helping people get better soft love helps push them further down and tightens the chains of slavery to addiction and violence.  soft love is without any power to help heal and empower people.  soft love isnt working, nor should we ever expect it to. 

the first united’s mission statement reads as follows:

” As an inner-city ministry of the United Church of Canada that has been called to be a part of the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, we seek to be and become a faithful and authentic “Gospel Community”.

my issue here is with the words faithful and authentic in relation to ‘gospel community’. having worked and volunteered at the shelter for the past eight months i saw very little of this. instead i saw a system set up to enable those stuck in the grips of addiction, pain and violence. i witnessed a lot of talk about ‘that which is sacred’ but nothing ever about the gospel. not once. those that might be able to share this idea of a faithful and authentic gospel community locked themselves away in their offices, spending very little time with the actual community and its members. how can this be? how can genuine and authentic community be created when its leaders arent in the trenches creating it? ill answer the rhetorical question for you: it cant and it wont.

i feel that you have lost sight of the bigger picture. you allude to the bigger picture in your mission statement but always disguise it in your verbal speech when talking to the community. why does it seem like youre afraid or ashamed to speak about the gospel? the gospel and only the gospel is the bigger picture, and one which i believe you have lost sight of. the gospel also happens to be the main answer to my question earlier what is love? the good news (the gospel) is love from above and one which as a gospel community we should be sharing not just in action but through our words. why isnt that the case at first united?

while it does seem as though im overly critical of first united i assure you im not critical for critical-sake but have genuine concern for my friends that make up the community there. i believe that they deserve more than whats being given them and its out of my love for them that i write this now. 

thank you again for my time at first united.  i wish you all the best and hope that the new transition period with the new building goes off without a hitch.

sincerely,

lucas

______

should i send it..?

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tote story

so heres the deal..

the homeless shelter i work for in the downtown eastside needs help. 

in october of last year, the storage facility ast first united opened to provide a free and safe place for people living on the streets to keep their belongings.  today, just short of the one year anniversary, over 1200 people have been and continue to be helped.  the 1000-square-foot facility stores suitcases, shopping carts, and has 155 tub-sized totes where people can keep anything besides alcohol, drugs, food and weapons. also, theres no time limit on how long they can store their belongings. without the burden of hauling their things around and/or having them be possibly stolen, it gives people more freedom to get other aspects of their life in order and hopefully pursue gainful employment that will get them off the streets and into a home.  the storage facility also employs people in the area and gives them a sense of contributing back to their community in a tangible way. 

the problem now is that funding has run out for the project.  we need the government grant of 25k to keep this going.

heres how you can help:

go to this link  (http://www.refresheverything.ca/firstunitedchurch) and sign up to vote.  you can vote everyday until the end of october. 

as cliché as it may sound, every vote matters so please vote.

thanks!

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hello again

 
 

today is the end of my blogosphere hiatus. im not sure if hiatus is the appropriate wording though. see, my place in east van was broken into little over a month ago. the very intelligent and capable and thoughtful gentlemen living above us (whom we shared a laundry room with) happened to forget to lock the door that leads into the laundry room, which happened to be connected to our suite. unlocked doors plus east hastings equals your stuff going goodbye. its really a simple equation, one of which i would have expected our neighbours to know and understand quite well. the longer i live the more i realize that my expectations for simple understanding is going to be continually exasperated. i can hear a faint whisper from my computer: “thats life. get used to it”. i regress.

one of the items that the theives acquired from me was my laptop. my late sony vaio and i had a pretty intimate relationship to say the least. our romance was profound and unequaled to anything i had ever experienced with another piece of technology. my sony never made a fuss or crashed eradictly on me like some of those other computers that throw temper tantrums for no apparent reason. i fell back in love with writing while i owned her. her keys were comfortably worn from hours and hours of typing on them. she had a giant screen so when i sat close and watched a documentary it was like i was there on the african plains hunting gazelle with the lion pack (which is actually called a pride 😉 put that little factoid away for a rainy day if you like) ok, im clearly exaggerating. love makes you do that sometimes.

the mourning process has been tough. i had four years of writing on my sony. four years!! i had folders full of school papers, class notes, crazy political rants and even crazier philosophical and theological rants. not that i read them over very often but the thing is, i could and now i cant. when i did read back on pieces i had written, it was cool to see my ideas and beliefs evolve and how i went by it. now i just have vague memories of what they said. to put it lightly, that sucks.

yesterday the mourning process was interrupted by a knock at the door. a friendly african american man with a thick black moustahce and and a crooked smile brought me my new dell laptop (c/o my wonderful grandparents. thanks guys!) after an enthusiastic and slightly awkawrd hug with my delivery man, i took off for my bedroom to set up my new laptop and once again enter the world of blogging.

whether you missed me or not, i know you secretly did so dont look so distraught.

im back.

 

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