It's February now and that means we're halfway through our school. As Lauren explained in the previous blog, our biggest change of late has been the amazing house we were asked to live in for the next four months. We've now been in the house for four days, and are taking full advantage of the privacy, tranquility, and intimacy that it provides. Dennis is sleeping better and Lauren and I are staring into each other's eyes more often. It's great!
As far as the school goes, there's much going on. For my volunteering, I was recently paired up with an 83-year-old man named Emile Pirro. I've met with him twice in his apartment, and am thrilled with the man. He's got quite a personality and seems to really enjoy company. I'm really looking forward to getting to know him over the next four months. Essentially, I meet with him once a week for 2 or 3 hours simply to talk or go through old boxes of stuff.
Also, I recently had two articles published in a local newspaper in Montreal called the Catholic Times. I covered two faith-oriented events and wrote articles for each. I'm planning on doing a couple more for this month as well. Another thing required of us in the school is to do a two-month study of a spiritual movement outside Christianity. I chose to study Zen Buddhism because of its emphasis on prayer through "emptying" and "turning off the mind." I attended an orientation meeting at a Zen Center in the city and also attended one of the prayer times, which is referred to as "zazen". It basically consisted of sitting in silence for three twenty-minute periods, each one broken up by walking around the "zendo" for five minutes. During the sitting periods, all noises and movements are strongly discouraged. I never realized how much I swallow and how loud it can be when sitting in a silent room full of people! Nonetheless, I'm very excited for what it might teach me in learning to quiet myself and just listen for the still, small voice.
A few other things that are in the works include a visit to a local monastery to have lunch with a community of monks and "monkesses", a few different interviews with Islamic, Jewish, Evangelical, and Sikh faith leaders, and hosting our home church's Sunday meetings a few times (now that we have the space to do so!).
Of course, there are many more things that have happened and will happen out here that are too many to tell; nonetheless, I can say with the utmost conviction that our first four months in Montreal have gone way beyond our expectations. A whole new world has opened up to us, and we are eating and soaking it up. The infinite opportunities and experiences within the urban context that is Montreal have revealed God's breadth and depth to me in fresh, new ways I had never considered. In the most anti-religious of North American cities, it's amazing to see God's presence in such creative ways.