After three solid years of learning in an academic structure, I’m down to my final 3 courses. I’m currently taking two, Eastern Orthodox Theology, and Power Dynamics and Gender. Surprisingly, they are both quite similar so far as we march through the history and cultural formations of Patriarchy and other social constructs. I am learning so much, and beginning to feel a certain sadness in my heart that this journey is nearing its end.

After this semester, I’ll have one course remaining in the summer and then complete! Because of Covid and the virtual graduation reality, at least in California, I’ll be skipping the ceremonies. Too bad! It would have been nice to see some friends again, and have that sense of completion, plus the cool robe and hat!

Only some of this semesters reading requirement – I had to order several on Kindle.. I prefer hard copies when I can.

This week I’m learning about the Desert Fathers. I’ve read a little on them in previous courses, especially related to the early writings of the martyrs during the persecution of Dionysus. The church really suffered 30-40yrs prior the Edict of Milan in 313AD, when Christians could come out from hiding. Incredible what humanity has suffered under the oppression of fellow broken image bearers. Interestingly, these monks, before there were monks, developed a sort of monastic living in part out of the driving persecution, in part to enter the suffering of Christ. This ‘white’ persecution (‘red’ meaning bloodshed on the parts of the Roman authorities) drove not only these monks out to caves and mountains, but those seeking spiritual answers and meaning as well as hungry hearts began to recognize these men were on to something. Anyway, it’s been difficult to keep up with all the writing, discussions and weekly reading and lectures for two classes, I’ll be really glad to finish this journey with just one class.

As I type this, we’re plowing under our backyard, leveling it out and preparing to make a nice backyard for playing soccer for the kids, little playground etc. We’ve wanted to this for years, but been so focused on the Cafe and other projects – this past Spring we’ve painted, and been doing a number of upgrades on our house. It feels nice. We hope to finally insulate the exterior, we got one wall done many years ago, and it worked so well we just stopped the project.. and never continued it. I like that Ukraine doesn’t put much emphasis on exterior beauty when it comes to homes in our town.. it’s what’s inside that counts.. but slowly I see our town and neighbors beautifying and improving, so it’s inspired me to do a better job. We still don’t have a garden, after our initial failings, so we’ll try and have pretty yard and grass.. we’ll see!

The Lighthouse building is now back moving, the garage replacement turned into a little bit larger of a project, which I’m excited about. We have too many emerging leaders, and friends with great ideas and missional hearts that could use space for collaboration and piloting new stuff. Walls going up shortly, and a roof hopefully finished by mid summer –

I’ll finish with a question, one that I think strikes at the heart of the Christian message and our rootedness in God; What makes you ‘in?’ Where do you find your sense of belonging? How do you keep it, mature it?