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  • Writer's pictureGreg Powell

What Stood Out for You?

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

If you're like me, you've walked away from powerful experiences knowing they have been significant, but not always knowing why. Following past worship services when the music / prayer / reflection / Communion combination hit the right spot, someone would say something like, "thank you for the service," perhaps not knowing quite what was significant. I would normally respond with, "you're welcome...and what stood out for you?"

This post is my response to that question at this moment, a year after beginning to plant the Westshore Community of Practice (which may still be a placeholder name). And if you've been involved in what we've been up to, I'd love to know what has stood out for you?

Here are a few moments that have stood out for me, based on our various offerings.

Child-friendly contemplative walk

We've done this practice just about every week since arriving in Langford in July 2020, so many memories stands out. I think of being able to paddle, as a family, in our canoe to meet others at Thetis Lake to start the walk. I think of a few walks in the dark and pouring rain, heading home drenched but rejuvenated. I think of some lonely walks when the Covid-19 restrictions prevented us from gathering with others as we would like. I think of meeting new friends at Devonian Park, or wading in the warm, sea-bound water at Witty's Lagoon.

Here is the video we first made about the child-friendly contemplative walk.

Contemplative Day-hike

This has been another core ministry from the beginning. At first, just a long-time friend and I would do these hikes. But then another, and then another. Together, we would push our bodies to, literally, seek new heights. We would hike, sit in silence, walk without talking, eat, and take in the scenery. Whether looking out over Finlayson Arm, or south toward the Olympic Mountains, we haven't been disappointed yet. I recall the time shortly after my laser eye surgery when I literally had to lean on my companions during the walk. And I remember when we took Communion on the mountaintop (well, near the top).

Campfire Church

This time of gathering, campfire church, has become a key way to connect and worship. We've met twice (as of this writing in early-July 2021) and already this is fulfilling its potential. With the fire ban in effect, we decided to use a fountain as the centrepiece and focal point, rather than a fire. Bonus: the fountain is smoke-free!

What has stood out for me with these gatherings is their simplicity: we have some easy conversation, we eat a simple bite, and we host a simple worship service. The kids rip around while the adults chat, then we find ourselves around the fire / fountain in God's presence, proclaiming the new life that always comes. One person saying something like, "this is the faith expression for which I've been searching for a long time" still resonates with me.

The Christian Calendar

We've followed the rhythms of the Christian Calendar, albeit with a smaller-than-one-might-expect focus on Christmas Eve and Easter. For Good Friday we combined efforts with Fairfield United Church to organize a walk with eight stations along The Gorge. My first Communion with other people since the pandemic had begun stands out as a highlight from that Good Friday Walk.

We gathered at sunrise on Easter morning to proclaim the impossible -- a resurrection.

Spiritual Practices with Eliana and Greg

As a fun and -- we hope -- useful project, my daughter, Eliana, and I started a YouTube channel to teach/demonstrate some spiritual or contemplative practices. We've come to see just about anything we do as a spiritual practice, provided the intention is there.

What stands out for me with this project is seeing the look on her face when someone says they found the video helpful or insightful or moving.

Video Reflections

This series blurs the boundary between vlogging and preaching. Our cedar+canvas canoe (painted "Princely Purple") features prominently.

Recorded Meditations

A comprehensive set of my recorded meditations is at Insight Timer. But our in-house podcast, Wander, is a nearly comprehensive collection. These tend to merge the field of positive psychology, the practice of non-violent communication, and the teachings of Christianity -- along with some Eastern influence.

What stands out for me is that my meditation, Relaxation for Sleep, is by far the most popular. Apparently I have a gift for putting people to sleep!

What's Next?

I wouldn't say we've got this church-planting thing figured out just yet, but the direction we're headed feels right and led by the spirit. We have plans for pilgrimages, celebrating rites of passage, and continuing the routines we've established. Our new location, Metchosin, means connecting with new neighbours and new church neighbours, and that feels fruitful.

We hope you can join us on the journey, in one way or another.

May you know the peace of Christ, a peace that knows no bounds.

- Greg

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