Digestable #33: Willoughby Town Centre, Haggai, The Alpinist, Good for Nothing

Hello!

Welcome to another edition of Digestable, the short, weekly email where we check out the curious and wrestle with the good stuff!

Here’s what’s new this week:

Willoughby Town Centre: I’ve been leasing the commercial spaces of this vibrant mixed-use community in Langley, BC and it’s the most fun real estate development project I’ve worked on. 100-years ago in 1921, Willoughby H. Singer developed a post office here. Now, it’s home to 40,000 residents. Local retailers line the meandering street with 2-3 stories of residential condos and office spaces perched above. It’s a vibe everyone seems to love. The final buildings were just wrapping up when I took a few video clips of the project this week Check it out next time you are in the lower mainland!

The Legacy of Haggai: Many of us are striving to build a legacy that will endure for future generations. We invest years of blood, sweat, and tears in hopes of creating a lasting influence. We name everything from buildings to benches after our loved ones to preserve their memory. In spite of our best efforts, it is unlikely much about us will be remembered a mere 100 years from now.

As life ticks by and we start to question our legacy (look what Alexander the Great accomplished by age 30!), we take inspiration from stories like Colonel Sanders, who was in his sixties before he opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. Or Moses, who was 80 before starting his 40-year leadership career in the public eye.

Though not as famous as Moses (the most humble man on the earth, according to a book attributed to Moses), Haggai might trump all other unlikely late-bloomer stories. The messages in the Book of Haggai – only 1,000 words, or essentially a medium-length blog post – were delivered over a four-month period in Haggai’s seventies . . . and it’s influence continues 2,500 years later.

King Cyrus of Persia had issued a decree allowing the exiled Hebrews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their city and culture. This was a huge win for the devastated race, but they were still poverty-stricken. “You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it,” describes Haggai.

In a nutshell, the message of Haggai was that the Jews were struggling to eke out a living because they concentrated their reconstruction efforts on their own personal homes, while the Temple – the house where God dwells and the hub of Jewish religious life – was left in ruins. Their priorities were disordered and success would remain out of reach until they were properly ordered.

The New Testament authors taught that since the arrival, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Spirit of God no longer dwelt in buildings but rather in people. “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house,” Peter taught. And Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians that, “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Through a New Testament Christian lens, the legacy and message of Haggai would be something like: To experience the full fruits of abundant life in your community, prioritize the building of people that the Spirit of God dwells in (a spiritual house) over and above the building of your own house/kingdom. This is a message I find personally convicting and need to be reminded of.

The Alpinist: When Michelle Kuipers pulled her ADHD-diagnosed son Marc-André Leclerc out of elementary school to homeschool him, it was obvious to her that her son needed adventure. When Marc-André was in his early twenties dirtbagging in Squamish, it wasn’t obvious if his need for adventure would be fulfilled by acid trips . . . or mountain trips.

Thanks in part to the influence of his “spirited” girlfriend, Brette Harrington, he followed the call of the mountains. This documentary about the legendary climber Marc-André became covers all of life’s major themes and is stunning in every respect. 5 stars from this poseur alpinist.

Quote I’m Pondering: In the 1770’s, residents of the Virginia colony in the United States invited a local Native American community to send six of their members to Williamsburg College. Here is the reply from the Native Americans:

“We thank you heartily. But you, who are wise, must know that different nations have different conceptions of things, and you will therefore not take it amiss, if our ideas of education happen not to be the same as yours . . . Several of our young people were formerly brought up at your colleges: they were instructed in all your sciences; but when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger, knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy, spoke our language imperfectly, were therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors, nor counsellors, they were totally good for nothing.

. . . to show our grateful sense of your offer, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take care of their education; instruct them in all we know and make men of them.”

J. Michael Adams and Angelo Carfagna retell this story in their book, Coming of Age in a Globalized World.

Where did your curiosity lead you this week? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks again for following along. I’m having a riot putting these together, so if you are enjoying this newsletter I’d love it if you shared it with a friend or two and we can keep the great conversations growing.

Yours truly,
Jeff

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