Are You a Tree or Are You a Bird? Conversations with David Janzen

Last night I was at Grandview Calvary Baptist Church meeting with David Janzen and various intentional community practitioners from downtown Vancouver. We had representatives from Servants, 614 Community, Catholic Workers, Grandview, and L’Arche.

” David,” I said, shaking his hand. “I met you in Toronto. Likely I will just follow you all over North America.” I grinned. He grinned back.

Our conversation skipped along the surface of intentional community issues, like a rock skipping across the water. It was fascinating and encouraging to see how common many of our experiences (and struggles) were.

One topic that came up was stability.

“An analogy that helps us understand stability, community, and the kingdom, is the analogy of the mustard seed. It’s small, the size of a conversation, a longing. But you put it in the ground and it grows, and the birds can land and nest. It’s like that with our communities. Trees, branches, birds, all in one community. The tree has taken a vow of stability.  The birds haven’t.  Sometimes the birds eat the leaves and complain there is no shade.” Again he grins, and we laugh.

“Birds take the seeds elsewhere.  They poop on and fertilize the ground. The birds bless the tree, the tree blesses the birds.”

“Wherever I share this, people know right away, whether they are a tree or a bird.”

Kirk and I are trees. We know we have been called to put down roots in the community for the long haul. City transformation is measured in decades, not in mere years, and we want to be around long term to see God’s story for Hamilton unfold.

What are you? A tree or a bird? Both bless each other. Both have a role to play in the cultivation of God’s purposes.

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