beautiful and hazardous

beautiful and hazardous

i don’t know what it’s like for you, but it is amazing to me how debilitating a common cold can be.  i got my butt kicked this week and am just coming out of the fog a bit, piles of tissue lay next to me wherever i am!  i wrote this earlier this week before i got sick but am now just getting it up here.

when i started this blog almost 2 years ago one of the things i said i would do was be honest.  and we all know that when we are honest, we become extremely vulnerable.  knowing that certain people may read this blog, roll their eyes, and say “here she goes again” has been a good spiritual discipline in “trying-not-to-really-care-what-other-people-think-and-just-say-what-i-am-really-thinking-and-feeling.” and one of the things that i am still learning to shake after exiting the traditional confines of typical evangelical christianity is the pressure to “be happy, be nice, be positive” no matter what.  so when i am honest, when i am struggling, when i am mad, when i am hurt, i sometimes have a difficult time leaning into those emotions.  i have been practicing connecting-more-fully-to-what-is-going-on-inside-instead-of-pretending for a long time now, and i still find it is often difficult–especially publicly.

but what i find, over and over again, is the more honest i am, the more something inside of me shifts. this entire past week i had interaction after interaction that reminded me of my beautiful life and how thankful i am that i get to do what i love to do.  how grateful i am for the support of so many wonderful friends and companions on the journey.  what a privilege it is to get to be in the low, dark, ugly places of people’s lives.  what a gift it is to not have the confines of money and power and control guiding the life of our community.  how many other innovators and in-the-trenches people i know who are finding their way, too, passing on love and hope outside of the traditional, reminding me of what is possible.

during this past week i got a glorious text from my dear friend and brother on the journey, sage, from the refuge.  he knew i was blue and sent me a text of encouragement, it reminded me that we’re not stupid, but what we are doing is “beautiful and hazardous.”

beautiful.  hazardous.

oh these words resonated with me.  i see so much beauty in the weirdest, darkest, strangest of places.  i get to see the good news of the gospel in living color.  i get to see hope emerge from hopelessness. i get to see voices used that were once silenced.  i get to see dignity restored. i get to see the cycle of addiction broken. i get to see the unloved learn to love.

and i get to see up-close-and-personal-just-how-guided-i-still-am-by-messed-up-christian thinking.  you see, deep down, my human-ness wants all the beauty and none of the hazards. i want to live in the low places but have some of the high place things.  i want to do hard things during the day but have my comforts at night.  i want smooth sailing in the middle of a wild and unpredictable ocean. yep, i want my cake and eat it, too.

i chose this life.  i chose to leave the old and embrace the new.  no one forced me.  no one is forcing me.  i am a willing participant in this glorious mess.

and sometimes i just need to be reminded that despite its beauty it is, indeed, hazardous.

kingdom living is hazardous.

giving up the safe confines of “church where you get to just sit and listen” is hazardous.

intersecting with people’s real and painful stories is hazardous.

mixing with people who believe completely different things from us is hazardous.

living honestly is hazardous.

letting people love us is hazardous.

yep, the gospel is hazardous.  dangerous, scary, wild.

and oh so beautiful.

thanks for your love & support.  thanks for reading, for caring, for trying beautiful & hazardous things, too.

* * * * *

ps:  i have two other posts up this week:

  • one is part of christine sine’s advent series what are we waiting for (great series); it’s called the least likely.
  • the other is on communitas collective–an advent confession

also, you can read the 3 posts we have up at the refuge blog focused on the thin places – mine is called validation, jenny-silence (we did a really lovely indoor candle labryinth), and karl-surprise.

voca femina’s issue #15 – beauty in winter is also up, check out the lovely contributions.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • It is so counter-cultural to go towards the pain, into the darkness, to forgive the unforgiveable, to love the unloveable. But Jesus is in the darkness with us, in our fear, and in our pain as we seek redemption and reconciliation with each other… Thomas Merton says it well “But love, by its acceptance of the pain of reunion, begins to heal all wounds.”

  • I’ve spent most of my week reading about injustices, big and small, and standing next to young girls who’ve lost their families and more… I needed a reminder that what I’m doing is worth it.

    So, I can’t tell you what it was like to wonder if you had a new post up and breathe a sigh of relief when I saw that you did.

    Thanks for your words, thanks for being on this journey, both beautiful and hazardous.

  • We are so living the dream, and as hard and messy and uphill that it may sometimes be, the *theory* of the gospel actually meets reality in refuge life. How countless many long for that?! I am also very much ” a willing participant in this glorious mess.” There is, no doubt, no where else I would rather be. 🙂 xoxo

  • irene – yeah it is so countercultural, but it shouldn’t be!

    mary – 🙂

    ryan – i am glad you found some encouragement here. i know that sucked-into-the-overwhelming-reality-of-injustice-in-the-world-and-how-hard-real-life-really-is moment.

    stacy – i am glad you are a willing participant in this glorious mess. you bring so much to hope to all of us. i warned you, ha!

  • Kathy,
    God is using heaven and earth to move this glacier heart of mine… I am so grateful for you and the beautiful moments at the Refuge. I can feel the shifting in my heart…. There are so many voices and books out there telling me what to do… but I’m learning God’s ways are not my ways of trying to figure things out…. Love is not neat and is a beautiful mess…thank you for being the love of Jesus in this crazy world…..


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