Guy Bridgewater

seeker after holiness (& great music)

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urge for going … (sfgm #7)

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After a super week exploring Seattle, I’m now back in Vancouver getting ready to fly home - and thought I’d just pop up a quick post to say a HUGE thank-you to everyone, for all your amazing support while I’ve been away…

I send warmest & most extra specially Gi-normous (Guy-normous?) Thanks : to everyone who has made the last 3 months possible, not least to all who have looked after St. Mary’s, and the Horsham team & deanery - all through this privileged & refreshing sabbatical. I’ve no doubt whatever you will all have flourished wonderfully, with such a great team in place of course …

… but I am now really looking forward to being home, in time to help us celebrate Christmas. I recognise there may however be a certain slight mental jolt, as I make the personal gear-change from current fascination with Early Byzantine apophatic & cataphatic theology (which for some strange reason

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still here, still seeking

Despite all wicked rumours to the contrary (& despite looking suspiciously as if photo-shopped into this scene, indeed) - that absentee Bridgewater hasn’t gone to ground quite yet, to dodge his return to parish duty …

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However these last few weeks of sabbatical leave have, I admit, taken on a rather different flavour. I’ve been busy writing on holiness, but don’t feel quite ready to burst into public print just yet … and then also the terrible atrocities in Paris have cast a long shadow over everything, of course

It felt inappropriate to just carry on blogging away about spiritual life, from way up here in my Canadian ivory tower - but then I came across some words from a century ago, that helped restore a more godly perspective

Evelyn Underhill is here writing the preface to ‘Practical Mysticism’, her popular version of earlier more erudite tomes on spirituality; and the date is

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castanets & driftwood

Students can be pretty notorious for not phoning home - so I guess it was predictable I’d be out of touch for a while, while settling on campus here at the University of British Columbia (just west of Vancouver) :

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As you may remember, I’m here doing research & writing on practical holiness. So far I’ve largely been immersed in the magisterial works of Dallas Willard, some of which I’ve already mentioned in these posts

I really can’t recommend highly enough “The Divine Conspiracy”, “The Spirit of the Disciplines” & “Renovation of the Heart” - his trilogy which lays out a most compelling and inspiring vision of our deepest life calling

More about that later I promise, when I’ve had time to shape my own thinking a little bit more. Meanwhile here is just a glimpse of my backdrop here each day, happily tucked away in a corner of Regent College library (the extremely well resourced

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shucks …

Or “Inukshuks” to be precise. I refer to a potent symbol for both physical and spiritual guidance, that Jebs and I encountered in a wide variety of forms during our pilgrimage through the Rockies … and which has left me pondering what might perhaps be a Christian equivalent?

“Inukshuk” (plural Inuksuit) is an Inuit term meaning “in the role of a man.”

It describes a guiding cairn of flat stones, traditionally used by peoples all across the Arctic region of North America. For generations these signs have played a vital role in the tundra of northern Canada, which otherwise has few natural distinguishing features or landmarks for travellers to steer by

But they aren’t only found in the frozen north. This recent structure faces the ocean from Vancouver beach, having been specially erected to serve as the symbol for the 2010 Winter Olympics

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Like this example, some inuksuit are taller

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farewell to paradise (sfgm #6)

I think Jebs & I eventually discovered the true Mystery of Mayne Island …

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After sitting on a rock for ages, just gazing out onto the ocean (in company of the cute little bump here, which you will have to trust me is one of a pair of sea-lions frolicking in the sunshine)

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… and after exulting in the profusion of autumn hedgerows (that we have always cherished back home, but never before with humming-bird nests added into quite such a crazy collage)

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… and after being honoured by another thrilling & stately ride-past of orca (this time slightly better captured by my poor little point & shoot camera)

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… after all that and more, we have finally realised the true mystery of this place : which is, of course, how anyone can ever bring themselves to leave such beauty & tranquillity behind

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Loading onto the ferry was really tough - made even more so because leaving the island meant it

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the mystery of mayne island

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Mayne Island really is straight out of an Enid Blyton book. Here on retreat for ten days in a wonderfully cosy log cabin, we are perched right over the ocean & surrounded by woods - all we lack are lashings of ginger beer

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When first he discovered it, Captain George Vancouver christened the bays and points of this small island after wives and daughters of his crew. We have extended the favour to a family of seals who live and fish beneath our window, who now rejoice as Georgina the pretty, Helen the plain, Edith the spotty, Laura the baby and George the big daddy (here he is saying hello)

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Promise not to tell the bishop, but on docking here we were greeted by another good friend from our St. Mary’s congregation (those whom I’m dutifully to ignore throughout these 3 months of course) - who also somehow just popped up to say hello

It was thanks to Marion that we had been able so

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five go to the seaside

After over-exerting itself with my birthday sunset, the weather decided to close in on us at Tofino. (We thus came to witness an attraction promoted enthusiastically by the local tourist board. The out of season sales pitch, run without visible tongue in cheek, goes like this : no matter that you can’t surf right now, just grab some cocoa & come storm-watch with us instead!)

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Sadly this meant cancelling both the sea-plane excursion, & the stand up paddle-board lesson that we’d planned. Instead brooding seascapes projected an intense and cinematic backdrop to “the alligator game”

(traversing wide deserted beaches by hopping from driftwood tree to ubiquitous driftwood tree), to leisurely quests for sea anemones and starfish, & to collecting interesting flotsam and/or jetsam for a marshmallow bonfire

Forest paths leading to the ocean were also a wonder to be savoured. Here was a deep

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very happily birthday-ed

This is just a line to thank everyone who sent me Birthday greetings for yesterday - it was an amazing day!

Glynn & Judith (friends over on holiday from St. Mary’s) whisked us off to Tofino, a paradise for surfers (and vicars) further up Vancouver Island

We arrived in time for sunset … I can personally vouch for this grand event being staged every day for the last 55 years (& reportedly for even longer than that) - but am not sure it has been quite this beautiful, ever before …

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Glynn and Judith’s birthday card to me was also quite inspired - consisting of the closing words of the very Dr Seuss book I happened to have found in a thrift shop here last week :

So be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray, or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea …

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting so … get on your way!

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And so the sun set rather definitively upon

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saving another stamp

I thought it might be time for another postcard home, to give a quick flavour of our latest travels - starting with the vineyards of Lake Okanagan

Such a shame the flavour can only be visual, as many specialise in delicious Pinot Gris … (I confess we didn’t quite manage the full tour ourselves, there being well over 200 wineries to call in on)

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Once safe to drive again … we spent the next couple of days exploring Vancouver city, which feels like bohemian Brighton crossed with high rise New York. A peninsula of grid system streets and vast multi-trailed forest park, it is surrounded by sea & bordered by mountains

Part of getting our bearings was to walk right around the sea wall (am now seriously inspired to take up roller-blading, when here by myself later…)

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On Sunday we worshipped at the Anglican Cathedral - except that it is currently meeting in a posh hotel, while work is

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tozer revisited

I have been hugely enjoying the two A W Tozer spiritual classics that I mentioned earlier, and thoroughly recommend them as both beautifully written & stunningly insightful for those serious about pursuing God. I have also discovered there is much more to this author than meets the eye …

Tozer was famous as a preacher first and foremost, whose writing was a highly successful extension of his preaching. As such he was a doughty defender of biblical doctrine, whether it won him friends or not - his concern was simply to exalt Jesus Christ, & let the chips fall where they may.

Hugely popular as a powerful (& often also humorous) guest speaker, like many an Old Testament prophet he could however not be relied upon to be either politic or even necessarily polite with his hosts. He applied the Gospel fearlessly to trends he saw around him, such that he once remarked to (fellow famous

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