18 August 2009

on staying in amsterdam and joining the community

the following is the email i had sent out concerning my joining the community in amsterdam...


it'll be three years this september that i've been in Amsterdam - all ofthat time living in the Oudezijds 100 community and participating in many different ways. i've loved Amsterdam ever since i got my bike here (a typical omafiets - the type of bike that has no gears and brakes with your feet!). and i started falling in love with the community from the time that i felt accepted as part of this crazy family here, something that happened already my first weekend in Amsterdam. as i continue to make a life here and as i get to share more of my life here with others, my desire to stay here and put down roots and participate as fully as possible only grows. and i have a sense that God is saying, yeah, this desire is good. staying here is good.

and staying here for me means that i would get to stay a part of the Oudezijds 100 community. when i first heard about this community, i recognized it as being exactly the sort of place that i was looking for before i even knew exactly what i was looking for. and that sense has only grown as i've gotten to know it better. it is a place where i have felt at home and accepted for who i am (at least, most of the time :) ). it is a place with enough diverse aspects that there are a lot of different ways to use one's gifts and to be challenged by different types of people. and it's flexible enough that i'm encouraged and expected also to use my gifts outside of the community. it's a place where i can share in others' lives in a way that i'd never have the energy or opportunity to do alone. it's a place where i can pray a lot. and most of all it is a place where i can tangibly live out what i believe - "giving hands and feet to one's faith" is how we often put it.

as a way of following my desire to continue to be as much a part of the community as i can, i have asked to be a postulant. and the community has enthusiastically affirmed their desire to have me, which gives all of us joy :)

for me to ask to be postulant means that i am starting to see participating in the Oudezijds 100 community as being a calling that God has for me. i'm not exactly sure if it is, but i'm sure enough to say that i want to take steps to make my relationship with this community to be more permanent. and the first huge step is to become a postulant. and i am hoping to make/take the promise of the postulant officially at the end of October.

and as for what it means practically? well, many things in my life won't change - i'll still live in the same place, still work/study the prophets, still visit Canada/America a couple of times per year, still be very much Christian Reformed, and still be very much me. as for differences, there'll be some change in my responsibilities, and within the community i'll now have to wear a blue apron that is a symbol of our commitment to the community (although i find the aprons a bit ugly, i will admit they're convenient for staying clean and having a place to store own's stash of keys). but the biggest change for me, i think, isthat i'll receive the title of sister/zuster, as befitting someone who is joining a monastic community (for that is what Oudezijds 100 is, even if it shows this form in different ways than traditional monasteries).

i'm not sure if zuster brenda will ever stop sounding odd to me, even as i see it as also an honour - both that i get to be part of the Oudezijds 100 community - and that others affirm my desire to do this.

thanks for your prayers and questions and encouragement along my journey to get to where I am now. I'm glad that I get to share my hopes and joys in this new step in my life with all of you :)

blessings and peace, brenda

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