Last September the St. Margaret's Cedar Cottage in East Vancouver congregation launched a ministry called Hineni House, an interfaith spiritual intentional community for people in their 20s and 30s who want to talk about spirituality, discern together, grow together and make the world a better place. They chose the name “Hineni” (הנני) because it is the Hebrew word for “Here I am.” It is the Hebrew Bible response people gave when God was calling them, thus it is a sign of both action and commitment.
When St. Margaret's developed the Hineni House vision almost 5 years ago, they had in mind the spirit of friar Richard Rhor's words “We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” In other words, the best and most effective way to deepen your faith is to live out your spiritual life like everything else depended on that. Because in a way, it does! As Gandhi said, the best way to make this world a better place is to become that change we wish to see in the world.
This year we have three Hinenites living in our 1500 square foot House, they each have their own room and share all other areas. Two of them are graduate students and one is a student-to-be, while they work, volunteer and lead life-giving busy lives. Once a week we all gather to discuss matters such as our spiritual inquiries, our fears, our joys, our plans and dreams for our lives, and of course, to eat. Because there is a lot of eating involved in our vegetarian household! Through facilitated circles, we engage in group spiritual direction, lectio divina, contemplative and guided meditation, prayer and other spiritual practices. Additionally, residents may opt to engage in one-on-one spiritual direction, and counselling, and we also have a resident Conflict Transformation facilitator who has been teaching us along the way how to be effective and empathetic communicators. Our projects for 2017-18 include creating a community garden where we can grow our own food year-round, adding sections to our backyard meditation trail, going for an outdoors retreat, and much more.
It's been an indescribable journey so far and we've grown very close. We have shared laughs and tears, we have sung together and gone out to eat... eating is likely one of the things we do the most together! If you are interested in joining this open spiritual community where you can meet like-minded people and grow, you will be happy to know that applications for our 2017-18 program will open April 1st 2017. To learn more about the House and the program visit www.hinenihouse.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTOS Anita Laura Fonseca