a cup of cold water

jose and i just got back from portland.  we went to hang out for the weekend with our friends deborah & ken loyd.  oh, it was good for my soul.  i was encouraged.  reminded that this is work worth doing.  challenged.  humbled.  these guys are the real deal and we left feeling more loved, less lonely, which always happens when we hang around other crazy people doing wacky ministry things that don’t make “sense.”  deborah co-pastors the bridge, which feels beautifully chaotic like the refuge (only with more tattoos and louder music).  they really do have the same values of equality & community; everyone has a voice, the marginalized and oppressed are valued & authentic, raw community is most important.    it is so obvious–jesus, alive and well and flowing through honest, broken,  hopeful people.  last year ken planted a new community called home-pdx which is the real deal serving the homeless in portland.  

deborah asked me to teach at their service on sunday morning. i introduced them to the flogging machine & elaine and i’s chart from come with me that helps with discerning God’s voice because things get so mucked up in our head it’s hard to hear God.   (ps:  i think we might have a flogging machine demolition ceremony at the refuge sometime soon.)    todd and angie fadel and their team facilitated worship. it really is glorious to see that much freedom.  the words of one of their newest songs are under my skin and i can’t stop humming it…my favorite line:  You stick around and show yourself when we notice you.   crystal, who coordinates bridge kids, read a book about martin luther king and everyone wrote dreams on stars for a grownup dream mobile, just like the one the kids made.  this same kind of interactive stuff that we do at the refuge fills my heart; there’s just something so cool about everyone participating in church instead of just sitting and listening.   my favorite kid dream–that boys and girls would be treated equally.   the dream i wrote on my star:  that the power-ful will give some of their power to the power-less. 

after the bridge we went and saw the tail end of ken’s sunday gathering. wow, it was intense and as i observed this safe haven for who ken calls “his friends who live outdoors” i was struck by how hard it is to be in the trenches.  the smell, the intensity, the reality, the harshness….all mixed with this incredible beauty that for 4 hours on a sunday there’s some people who care, a good meal, clean socks, and most of all friendship, love, a little hope. 

afterward we got a chance to eat dinner with angie and todd & their kiddos and laugh about how similar we are, the same pressures, the same hopes & dreams.    on sunday night i went out with erin and pam. i met erin online & we got to meet at off the map. i love her blog ( it’s so worth checking out her latest post “chili all over the kitchen” about breaking out of good christian woman craziness.)  pam’s a great writer, too, and i left our conversation reminded that there are many cool strong passionate women who made it “out” of church bondage and inspire me to keep pressing toward freedom.  no turning back…

i left with this prevailing thought–real community never comes easy or cheap & ease does not equal value.   

i am clearly officially “done” with old church models, over the hump, off the cliff (in case you haven’t noticed).   and i like it here.   i love the honesty. i love the passion. i love the truth-telling and the sold-out-for-a-better-way-even-when-it-seems-crazy-and-stupid.  i love Jesus in the flesh, not just in inspiring sermons.  the bridge and the refuge are kindred spirits.   we have chosen a more difficult path, there’s no doubt.  giving up money, power, church growth strategies, stupid rules about who can do what because of what chromosomes they possess, and “the need to be spectacular”  is harder than it looks but mainly for one reason–money.  you see, all of those other things attract people with money, stability, resource.  the bridge, home-pdx, the refuge, and many others are making choices that mean “steady money will not be likely”. 

but i wouldn’t trade it for a million dollars.  really.  this kind of community, it’s glory.  lives changed.  being truly known and still loved.  participating.  seeing God heal.  letting God move.  Jesus with skin on.   it’s good to be home. 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

9 Comments

  • Wow Kathy, you really put it into words. As I read your blog I said within myself, “Yeah, that’s why we do it!” because sometimes I get buried under the intensity and forget.
    It was so refreshing having you and Jose’ with us for the weekend. Again, soon?

    Peace

    Reply
  • It was soooo great to see you! I’m glad you could come and spend some time experiencing first hand what The Bridge is all about…these people are amazing and inspiring to me.

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  • Hey Kathy….so does this make meeting 4 times now???
    I’m really really really not a stalker…just following the trail from Erin’s this time!!!

    I’m SO thankful that Deborah and Ken have you and Jose’ and the Refuge for friends…it is hard work but I for one am very thankful you’ve all given feet to your dreams & that you have each other for support!!

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts as I love your heart and way with words!!

    Reply
  • hey deborah, hope we get together soon. thanks for being you. we had a great time. we love you guys.

    erin, it was so fun hanging out. we need take our ex-good-christian-woman idea and start a revolution!

    donna, i am so glad we’ll be able to stay connected online. thanks for stopping by the blog. what you are doing at the bridge, home-pdx is so beautiful… hope we can stay in touch and you can share stories!

    Reply
  • awesome hanging out with you sunday night. it was a great meeting of minds and hearts and a great reminder for me that i have not journeyed alone in my spiritual wilderness. letting go of “church” is not letting go of people, but of a religious system that stifles the beauty of Christ in each one of us.

    I loved your ideas about She Says. I think my first book needs to be about The Bridge. I have about 3-4 journals I have kept entries in about Sunday gatherings and other Bridge community stuff that has swirled around me. I am inspired to write when I spend time with my Bridge family.

    Anyway, I’ve added you to my google reader so you will be seeing more of me and more often, at least online. I’ll keep you posted if we decide to trek it to CO this summer.

    Glad you guys came, and that you made it home safe!

    Reply
  • Hi Kathy,

    Your summary of your experience at The Bridge parallels mine in many ways.

    It was a blessing to hear you teach. It’s very fitting as it seems that God is taking me on a journey this winter to learn to realize that I can hear from Him and that He does speak. I’m reading a book by Brad Jersak entitled, Can You Hear Me.

    I also enjoyed talking to your husband. I’d love to come and visit your church someday. I’m on a jourey to learn how God wants me to continue to minister in a way that fits what He’s doing in my heart. That’s why I’m enjoying experience spiritual communities that are doing things in creative/authentic ways.

    Keep pressing on and God bless.

    Reply
  • kathy, you are loved. we’re glad went to hang out in portland…wait till i tell about my trip to st.louis – a little different –

    we look forward to more time hanging out at the fuge, where it’s a weird ass place, doesn’t have to make sense, as long as we’re free to heal, free to be ourselves, free to explore faith, and free to let our shit hang out everywhere and not worry about the smell…

    though, we need more mexicans in there so i don’t keep having to explain to folks what “vato loco” means…ha ha.

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  • hanan, it was nice to meet you and i think it’s really cool that you are trying to learn as much as you can about new ways…if you guys ever come down to denver from BC let us know and of course we’d love to hang out. the journey we’re all on is really good, challenging and exciting all wrapped up in one.

    sam, por la raza!!! it is a weird ass place, that’s for sure. and i am so relieved you get that it doesn’t need to make sense as long as they’re freedom and healing and a safe place to question and just be where we are…also, our percentages aren’t too bad with 12 hispanics between our two families!!

    Reply

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