I shifted over from NZ in July & started connecting regularly with Seeds from about October 2007. I have spent a lot of time since then trying to figure out exactly what “community” is. Marcus regularly talks about this concept of “growing home”, meeting to prepare and share a meal together, to be neighbours and engaged in the community together – that’s where church happens.

This tapped into this greater struggle I already had going in my head: relating to missing family and friends back home, to feeling like I have no support networks here. In a new city nothing is familiar; the streets, street/place names, the skyline, the public transport system – going out, it feels like you need to arm yourself for a hostile environment.  Can feel vulnerable and insecure all the time.

When I started learning about the work of Urban Seed, I approached it based on the assumption that I would be on the ‘giving help to homeless people’ side of the service. I didn’t realise that actually, I am homeless myself…

“homelessness” is nothing to do with not having a house. Urban Seed doesn’t provide housing, Urban Seed provides an opportunity to be connected in a community. Feels like a really profound revelation for me – my definition of homeless was quite narrow:

Homeless: Without a home. Persons who lack permanent housing.

But in reality, homelessness is:

Homeless: ‘An inadequate experience of connectedness with family and/or community.

If we use the latter definition, does that change the number of homeless people you know?

The picture at the top is a poem I wrote when in this space – trying to express something of my experience of the state of homelessness…

This is loosely based on the parable of the farmer in the gospels (Matthew), the farmer scatters seed and the stuff on the road gets eaten by birds, the seed in rocky ground grows but gets scorched and some landed in the weeds and got choked but some landed in good earth and produced 100/60/30x what was planted.

I have times when I wonder whether shifting here was the right thing to do. I keep waiting to see one of those big signs like you have on the highways here that say WRONG WAY, TURN BACK! I am afraid that I might not flourish here, that I might not find good earth I which to put down strong roots.

Marcus pointed out that we’re all homeless, all on a journey back to our heavenly home – having to leave the home we know, that’s part of our history.

This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You belong here… God is building a home. He is using you in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, seed by seed with Jesus as the cornerstone that holds everything together. We see it taking shape day after day…  (slight paraphrasing, Ephesians 2:19-22)

I was feeling adrift, like I wasn’t connected to anything, reading this was really grounding, it gave me something concrete to hold onto – it was such a relief to have something I felt certain about.

Maybe I’ve been homesick all my life, homesick for heaven, and because all of the things that made my life full I couldn’t see it as clearly.  Perhaps because my environment was known and familiar I could pretend that was enough, and it’s only through shifting to a new country that I’ve had to question what I think I know.

2 Corinthians 5:4 reads “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we wish to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”  Perhaps the pursuit of happiness in this life is really part of the search for home, a search for heaven.  Maybe this life is never meant to be completely satisfactory, the passage goes on to say God has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. So we have this Spirit within us that is always longing for God, to be with God… longing for home.

For a lot of people in the pursuit of happiness, they express dissatisfaction with their tents by redecorating them or damaging them. Perhaps no one’s quite sure what our home’s supposed to be, we live by faith not by sight, but it seems we’re all agreed that it’s something other than what we have.  What we’re pursuing is change, what we long for is to grow home…

Now when I go back to NZ I found it very valuable in helping me to see how much progress I’ve made towards growing a home here. Urban Seed is helping me do that, helping a lot of people do that. That’s what Urban Seed/Seeds is about: It’s about providing good earth, where people can put down some roots and grow, it’s about providing spaces where people who feel homeless can experience connectedness while on the journey to grow home.