Those four things have become central to our life in downtown Vancouver. When people gather three of those four things nearly always happen. Those four things are not only rhythms to our gathering but they’re really rhythms to how my brain is starting to function.
Eat- Eating is one of the most deeply spiritual things we do. In the western world much of this has been lost to capitalism because we’re more concerned with getting things quick and cheap than we are with engaging the actual process and experience. Good parties happen around food and drink, the historical accounts of Jesus happen around food and drink (especially the story that the gospel of Luke tells), relationship happens around food and drink, life doesn’t happen without food and drink. Food and drink should never be worshiped, but food and drink is an act of worship. It’s a celebration, its a proclamation of our togetherness–togetherness with each other, togetherness with our soil, togetherness within ourselves (our hands prepare the food, our mouth enjoys the food, our body needs the food, etc.)
Storytelling- storytelling is not just about regaling people with a fantastic narrative, storytelling is what happens around a table. Storytelling is why I’m writing this in a coffee shop. Storytelling is what you discover when you listen to others. Everyone’s got a story to tell there are just not many people who are willing to listen and care about others stories. When we choose to listen, to ask questions, to remember and value others lives we are engaging in and valuing the practice of storytelling. We are all storytellers at heart, we’ve just lost our audience. Storytelling however is not just an individual thing–neighborhoods and cities have their stories, communities have their stories, even our house has a story. One of the most beautiful gift we received at our housewarming was a nicely written chronology of our house. A woman did research and discovered who its owners were, when it was built, and some of the things that had happened in the life of our house. I don’t know about you but I get consumed myself–with the fact that nobody wants to hear my story. I get so caught up with what’s next that I stop pausing to learn the story of my city, my community, even my own home. We don’t care about the past we care about the future! Innovation! Discovery! New ideas, new places, new experiences! But what is so profoundly true is that there’s no better soil for dreaming a new future into existence than the rooted and powerful stories of our past.
Dream- As was just alluded to, dreaming is a natural extension of healthy interaction with our stories. When we listen to others we catch some of their dreams for the future, when we learn about our community we start to hear potential new realities emerge from the movement of the past. Dreaming is rooted in our stories, in listening to each other, in knowing who we are and where we’re from. Part of the reason that listening to each other is so important to dreaming is that for a dream to become a reality we’ve got to share it, it’s got to become the shared dream of the community. Dreaming invites to question what could be, it engages our often dormant imagination, it invites us into the godly pursuit of creation.
Act- Dreamers don’t change the world unless they or someone else carries those dreams and makes something happen. Action is not only important it is essential for life together. We do not act on everything (can you imagine the exhaustion?!), but we do act. We do not always take action, but it’s always a part of the horizon. Acting, innovating, actually creating is not an end goal as much as it is a healthy natural response to eating together, to listening to each other, and to dreaming new realities. I’m starting to believe that if we throw ourselves into the first three rhythms the fourth will be inevitable.