Sunday, September 17, 2006

Remembering...

I was chatting with my Dad earlier today, and he asked me something that caught me off guard with its abrupt reality: "So, this is your second-to-last Sunday in the Zolder, isn't it?"

He was right.

Even though the reality has been staring me in the face for months and months -- even though the practical logistics of relocating our ministry have consumed countless hours of thought and action -- the departure has still snuck up on emotionally. And yet here it is. We're now in the final week of ministy in "The Zolder" ministry facilities on the Leidsekade. One last staff meeting. One last home group leaders meeting. One last Soul Gathering. One last Sunday of worship... And then, we say "tot ziens" to the Zolder.

Thank God "the church" is not confined to a building. Thank God our best days of ministry are still ahead of us. Thank God we've never been outside of His protection and provision. Thank God for perspective to see our church's relocation for what it really is -- a step toward bigger and better things, an arrangement of circumstances that will allow us to build for the future...

But I also have to thank God for all of the memories that will forever be attached to "The Zolder." And I hope to take some time in the coming days -- when I'm not packing boxes or meeting with city officials or real estate agents or lawyers -- to post some of my reminiscences of our church's first real home in Amsterdam: as a means of celebrating, as a means of grieving, as a means of releasing the past to make way for the future... If you have any memories that you'd like to add to the mix, I'd encourage you to post them as comments -- or as independent entries on your own web space (and if this is the case please let me know, so I can link to them!). With that said, I'll close this post with a revision of an old story (from the early days of this blog), that seems like an appropriate stance for remembering the Zolder in the coming days.


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(Photo by Marco Pauws - February 2005)

Zolder Venster
Originally posted 19 February 2005

I remember the first time that I really gazed out the attic window to the view of the Bosboom Toussaintstraat. The night was black and starless, but the string of amber streetlights offered a gentle glow to this quiet urban canyon. The tall, gabled houses framed the narrow street with a sense of diminuitive grandeur. A typical Amsterdam street, except for the absence of bends or crooks in the thouroughfare, allowing an unrestricted view of the entire Bosboom Toussaintstraat -- straight as an arrow pointing to the monolithic urban developments built on the fringes of the city long after its illustrious golden age.

The view offered an epiphany. A moment of realization and understanding. A quiet knowing of the fact that this was Amsterdam. The strange amber light, the 17th Century architecture, the traffic flowing with hatchbacks, scooters, and bicycles, the measured two-pitched song of an ambulance racing through the night... That first deliberate view out of the attic window provided a sense of genesis -- a threshhold to new beginnings in this city we chose for our own.

I've sat to gaze out of that attic window many times since my initial reflection upon the Bosboom Toussaintstraat. It seems to offer a timeless window on life in Amsterdam. Through all the people who have come and gone, through times of sorrow and joy, through sleet and sunshine, through silence or singing... the amber streetlights flicker to life every evening and illuminate the Bosboom Toussaintstraat, essentially unchanged from my first view of the Amsterdam nightscape. Every view is an opportunity to re-center, re-focus, and renew my perspective. I remember who God is. Who I am. How we came to find ourselves in Amsterdam in an attic space overlooking the canals and streets of the city centrum. Every gaze is a new beginning.

This evening, I look down upon the dancing waters of the Singelgracht beneath me. The amber reflections of the city streetlights are refracted and projected in a cycle of perpetual motion, as if I'm methodically running my fingers through piles of golden treasure. Above the canal, a woman on bicycle is sillhouetted against the streetlights as she struggles to surmout the incline of the Koekjesbrug. And beyond the bridge, on the other side of the busy Nassaukade, the Bosboom Toussaintstraat stretches out like a long, straight finger, pointing the way to tomorrow.

3 Comments:

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Bret said...

I'm glad you are taking the time to reflect upon the Zolder itself. I really cannot believe the time has come to call it done. It is especially strange to be so far removed from all that is happening there. It's very strange indeed, but I pray you will be strengthened in this time to lead and to follow as best you can.

 
At 8:13 PM, Blogger Stef said...

I blogged my thoughts:
http://sirakebbeh99.blogspot.com/2006/09/day-of-good-byes-pt-2.html

:)

-Stef

 
At 9:18 PM, Blogger John M said...

Hey Eric,

I know we didn't get to talk too much when I was in Amsterdam with Drew and the Genesis team, but I'm glad I got to meet all of you. I will miss the Zolder. It truely felt like 'home' when we were there. Thankfully, that comes from the love and community that Zolder50 has in its people and not from the building itself. You have a good group of people there and no matter where Zolder50 is, there will be a 'home' for people.

 

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