Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Superb Experience

So, I wrote in my last blog that I would elaborate a bit on what I did for my internship and my internship report. Our school director, Pierre, calls the internship a personal faith project. As I wrote in my last blog, for me it was experimenting with everything I've ever been interested in. Firstly, it was prayer, and that remained primary throughout the entire eight months. I knew from the beginning that prayer would precede everything else I did out here; so, I surrounded myself with resources that would birth, nourish, and sustain a habit of prayer. That in itself has been and will continue to be quite a journey for me. Secondly, my search for a vocation (AKA the career I was meant to pursue) motivated and initiated many of the diverse experiences I've had in this big city. To summarize, for weeks, sometimes months, at a time I seriously considered each of the following careers: musician, social activist, chaplain, journalist, farmer, music therapist, and teacher. I've written new songs, I've met with an elderly man once or twice a week, I've reported on events for a local newspaper, I've learned the ethics of how we eat (mostly thanks to my wife and Wendell Berry), I've gone to information sessions and conferences pertaining to these interests, I've met with various faith-leaders, whether Buddhist, Catholic, or Evangelical, and, finally, I've learned about the importance and innate value of work. In other words, I've learned that our work, the daily tasks that each one of us has, whether it be at home or outside the home, religious or secular, is the substance of our spirituality; it's where our faith is "wrought out at the coal-face", as Lesslie Newbigin describes it. In response to this realization and through lots of prayer and practical logic provided by my wife, I decided a few months ago to return to the career I thought I was leaving behind when I came out here. Thus, I've applied and been accepted to l'Université de Montréal for their masters program in English Studies, starting next fall. Of course, my primary obligation (besides Lauren and Dennis) will be to the Urban Cultures YWAM school that Lauren and I will help run the next two years. The classes for my masters will be worked in around that. Nonetheless, I'm happy to be progressing towards a career in teaching literature, no matter what form that may take.
So, at the end of the eight months, while reflecting on all these experiences and realizations, I decided that music would be a good vehicle to crystallize them. Thus, for a good two weeks before the internship report was due, I scoured my journals and notes, highlighted, wrote down, cut-up, and grouped together anything that seemed to represent a common theme that was prevalent during my time here. I was determined to finish 8 to 10 songs, record them, and burn them onto a CD to hand in on the due date. Much thanks to my divinely patient wife who generously allowed me the time to write and record, and thanks to my fellow classmate Andrew Koole who supplied the Apple Garage Band program and his sweet harmonies, I was able to accomplish my goal. The 10 songs on the CD are very raw, recorded in about 3 hours (compare that to the near 300 hundred hours my last CD took), but nonetheless are adequately representative of my/our experiences out here. I'm excited to share, continue writing, and playing these songs with some of my friends and family back home.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Woman's Perspective

It's been too long since I've had this blank blog page before me, the keyboard at my fingertips, feeling such power and freedom with the knowledge that all you loyal followers will read whatever I, Lauren Christine Fitzgerald Flanagan, choose to express! Ah, the World Wide Web!

Okay, so it's a rainy day and I've been inside a little too long. Actually, not true either. I'm prattling now (if you don't know the word: look it up; it's my new fave, probably because I do it too much!). Focus, Lauren, focus...

Denny, Big D (switched from Lil' D since he's a beast now), and I just returned from my favorite place here in Montreal: Jean Talon Market. The only way to give you an accurate image is to call it a farmer's market, yet it's so much more...Open all week long, every day, one stop shopping. Now that Spring has come-- and with it asparagus, tomatoes, leeks, rhubarb, and the like-- the market is booming. It's enormous, and there are outdoor vendors set up as in any farmer's market, as well as permanent stores selling local meat, cheese, beauty products, grains, bulk, produce, you name it. Any herb, plant, or flower is also there to purchase, along with other gardening supplies. Amazing. I can never get enough. After strolling through, studying cheeses I've never heard of and seeking out Quebecois produce for about an hour a half I feel like I'm just getting started... but King Dennis usually lays down the law and hurries me along.

I was recently able to show off this favorite spot of mine to a very special visitor... Momma Lolo herself (Lois, Denny's mom, that is)! She arrived the 1st of May, Dennis' 9 month birthday, accompanied me while Denny was away on his outdoor extreme camp, and was then here for a week after Denny returned. What a blessing! To see Grandma and Grandson reunited after too much time apart... words don't do it justice. She marveled at his smile and flirtation skills (wooing every person who is willing to look his way), watched him learn how to crawl, was here to guide us and snuggle with him during his first real sickness, and even allowed us a date night on her last night in town: what a woman! We tried to spoil her as best we could (especially on Mother's Day) by showing her our favorite spots, feeding her crepes, and drinking red wine and some local beer. We had an awesome time together, and are now anxiously anticipating all the time we'll have in good ol' Fountain Valley beginning in 18 short days.

As to not overwhelm you all with a 17-page blog, I'll save the stories of my growing passion for social justice through the way we eat and cook for another day. In the meantime, if anyone has any good bread recipes or tips, leave me a comment! I've been teaching myself to make our bread that we eat, and it's a learning process...

Thanks for reading; happy Spring!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


So, it's been a few weeks since our New York trip. Since then, we've had class on different forms of church, gone into the wilderness for 5 days for the Niko Camp, and been working hard on finishing some of the major reports due at the end of the month, also known as the end of the school! It's a very busy time for us with the above-mentioned reports, preparing for our quickly-approaching summer at home, and, most importantly, Dennis crawling! Man, it's turned us on our heads. He's quite opinionated now that he can crawl, not to mention mobile.
One report that I just finished was based on two books: Foolishness to the Greeks: the Gospel and Western Culture by Lesslie Newbigin and The Complex Christ: Signs of Emergence in the Urban Church by Kester Brewin. Both were excellent explanations of how and why we need to revamp our thinking of missiology in the western world (meaning Western Europe and North America roughly). They really gave me new insight and meaning into what it means to be missional in the urban context.
Another report that I'm still working on is a study on the sub-culture of the elderly in Montreal. Based on my weekly meetings with an 82 year-old sweetheart of a man, a few visits to organizations serving the elderly, and a book based on the important role of the elderly in Quebec, my report will focus on the problem of isolation among many seniors in Montreal and their inherent, but all-too-often ignored, value in our society. I've come to realize that working with the elderly is definitely something that's heavy on my heart; I am thankful to have discovered such an interest.
Lastly, at the very end of the school, we are required to turn in our internship report. My internship over the last eight months has basically been experimenting with every thing I've ever been interested in. As you can imagine, it has lead me all over the city where I've experienced all kinds of amazing things. In fact, for the next blog I will go into detail about my internship, all the experiences it has entailed, and how I plan to wrap it up nicely with a bow on top. For now, I'll keep in you some suspense.