this past weekend the refuge celebrated our 5 year birthday. it’s really hard to believe that over 5 years have really passed. when we first started, as so many of you know, we were beaten & bloody, armed only with some dreams for “what could be” and coming out of a rough experience from serving at a mega-church. but we didn’t give up. we showed up as best we could in real relationship with each other & slogged our way through a path toward healing. i can’t tell you the number of times i have “quit”, the number of times i’ve gone on monster.com looking for a different line of work, or the number of crumpled up tissues on the floor next to my bed from the past 5 years.
but somehow, God has continued to carry us through, carry me through, giving at least enough strength to make it through the next day.
one of the things we talked about this past saturday night related to palm sunday & the beginning of holy week is the fine line between cynicism and hope.
it’s far easier to be cynical then hopeful, i feel quite sure of that. in the past 5 years it’s been hard for me to not become cynical about “the church” between all i (and so many others i know) have seen & experienced. at the same time, i have also experienced the real & enduring hope of personal and corporate transformation. yeah, i see little miracles every day. i see the strength of people’s character up close and personal. i see dignity being restored where it has once been lost. i see people feeling loved despite a heck of a lot of obstacles. i see a wacky band of misfits embrace new friends and infuse them with courage. i see me, still believing, maybe more than ever. and that, in and of itself, is a small miracle.
i read something interesting this past week that really struck me related to our 5 year birthday. it was the story of a mega-church that is just wrapping up a huge multi-million building campaign. they declared “when we are faithful with what God has given us, God will give us more.” there are all kinds of things loaded into this statement & theology that i completely disagree with, but for me, i chuckled out loud, thinking:
i guess, then, we have been faithful with what God has given us, because he keeps giving us more pain, more addiction, more on-the-brink-of-walking-away-from-God-all-together’s, more healing-from-abuses, more financial instability, more grief, and more mental illness.
and as much as i whine about all kinds of things related to how hard it is, i wouldn’t change a thing.
we have also been given more authentic beauty as we continue to create and celebrate together, more comfort after we come to know each other more, more patience as we practice doing life and loving more freely, more kindness as we hang in there for the long haul.
this is where i’m supposed to be. this is where i keep finding hope. this is where i keep learning the ways of Love and how freaking hard & wildly beautiful they really are. this is where i keep discovering, in the words of father richard rohr, that the way down is the way up.
and this is where i keep realizing how much i believe in the power of resurrection.
5 years ago i should have been a goner when it comes to all things church. but God, in all kinds of wild and scary and painful ways, took what was dead & breathed new life into it. and he continues to remind me that equality, generosity, healing, community, and beauty are indeed costly–hazardous, really–but absolutely worth pursuing.
most of all, i’m reminded that Jesus radically redefines the word “more”.
thanks for being with me on this ride. in all kinds of lovely & simple & powerful ways, you have helped me feel less alone, less crazy, less stupid. it’s exactly what i needed.