* this post is part of the monthly synchroblog.  january’s topic, in the spirit of the season of epiphany, is the manifestation of God.  check out other bloggers who are writing on the same topic; links are below & i’ll add as more come in.  when i sat down to write about this topic, this is the first thought that came to mind…

“Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours,
yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world,
yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours…”

– teresa of avila

* * * * *


there are all kinds of orphans.  in a practical sense, some do not have living parents.  in an emotional sense, many do not have living-parents-who-take-good-care-of-them-for-all-kinds-of-reasons.  in a spiritual sense, many have lost their belief in God or church families & the structures they used to fit into.  regardless of how we got there, the realities of being orphaned are extremely painful & traumatic & scary.

i do not for a minute want to lump all orphan-ness into one category.  each have their different nuances and realities.  however, the part that sometimes becomes more clear to me in journeying with people in hard places is just how many orphans there really are. loneliness, disconnectedness, shame, fear, disorientation, self-protection, and survive-at-all-costs-kinds-of-behaviors seem to be really present in many orphans i know.  it’s always interesting in these moments, too, how even though i’m not an orphan in the practical sense, i connect with some of the characteristics & sometimes feel like i am.  i’m guessing some of my family history layered with weird church stuff contributes to it.

loneliness, disconnectedness, shame, fear, disorientation, self-protection, and survive-at-all-costs-kinds-of-behaviors seem to be the kinds of places that are in deep need of God’s spirit and healing touch.  and usually, not always, God’s healing touch doesn’t drop out of the sky directly into every orphan’s heart.  like so many other ways of God, it seems like over and over he uses people to pass it on.

people who somehow are Jesus with skin on.  people who don’t leave.  people who love tangibly.  people who listen.  people who care.  people who include.  people who enfold.  people who adopt.  people who see buried beauty & call it out.  people who help in time of need.  people who are patient.  people who value slow and steady over quick and haphazard.  people who are safe.  people who are present.  people who weep with us, laugh with us.

epiphany is a celebration of the incarnation of God in Jesus.  God-in-the-flesh.  the gospel stories remind us over and over again of the wild & beautiful message that God-in-the-flesh brought–that we are somehow God-in-the-flesh, too.   that we play a part in passing on Christ’s love, mercy, compassion, hope, life, and peace in a world that is distracted by religion, rules, and power.

to me, part of the mission of God in the here and now should be to play whatever small or big part we can to eradicate orphanness–kid orphans & grown-up orphans.

the part we play in this (and the healing we receive through it) is a beautiful, divine, supernatural manifestation of God.

Christ has no body here but ours.

* * * * *

here are the other participants so far:

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.


  • Hmmm….. this paragraph:

    people who somehow are Jesus with skin on. people who don’t leave. people who love tangibly. people who listen. people who care. people who include. people who enfold. people who adopt. people who see buried beauty & call it out. people who help in time of need. people who are patient. people who value slow and steady over quick and haphazard. people who are safe. people who are present. people who weep with us, laugh with us.

    This perfectly describes a dear friend and her family who have adopted me as their own. It’s funny. My frame of reference makes it difficult to even process the concept of being adopted. Not sure what it means…. but they are persistently patient in living it as I learn. And when I express to my friend that this is what she is to me, she smiles and says that I am the same for her. Hmm….and that is how it is supposed to be, I think.

  • Perfect timing for me to read this. I think I have an “orphan” wound that somehow came onto my soul in the course of life. Abandonment and isolation are too familiar to my path.

    Written tenderly, Kathy. You inspire me to blog again!

  • Really, I didn’t this post before I sent you that e-mail. Looks like we were thinking about the same stuff at the same time!

    “People who somehow are Jesus with skin on” – What better epitaph could any of us who are following Jesus have? Right now I guess you and I are trying to heal our bodies so we can better use them to help someone see Jesus. The stuff, the authority, the knowledge and all that just doesn’t work anymore. It never really did.

  • Thanks Kathy. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with my FB friends. We don’t have many of the same folks on our list and I think some of the ones on mine will really appreciate this!

  • Kathy.
    Thanks for this. I think that you may have described me in the orphan description to a tee. I appreciate your thoughts can understand why I am an orphan….because I understand!

  • I’ve been an emotional orphan before and Jesuses with skin on came to my rescue – loving me, listening to me, sitting with me, helping me – I don’t think I would have come out alive (certainly not well) if it hadn’t been for them. I remember one particularly bad day there was a knock on my door and a very dear lady from church who worked in the nursery that my youngest son stayed in when I attended church was standing there with a small bunch of spring flowers when I opened the door – she said she was on her way home from work and thought of me and that I might enjoy a small bouquet of flowers so she stopped at the grocery store and got these especially for me. She couldn’t stay, so she gave me a hug and took off, but the fragrance of her love filled my home and I felt like Jesus had stopped by to give me a hug.

  • I love this post, Kathy!
    In my finest moments, epiphanies, I actually experience everything (not just people) but plants, animals, as ‘Jesus with skin on’. Most of the time, though, my head wants to sort things into Jesus/not Jesus.

    We keep showing up, don’t we! Thanks for this lovely piece…

  • ellen – thanks. yeah, i am seeing an awful lot of God, that’s for sure 🙂 hope to see you soon, it’s been too long. i still haven’t had a chance to read all the posts yet but hope to over the next few days.

    katherine – yeah, i am so with you. when it’s 2 ways, there’s almost nothing more beautiful and healing.

    pam – so good to hear from you, i miss you and your voice! that orphan wound is a deep one, i have it, too. we did this exercise at our house of refuge with different stages of our journey and it was so interesting because i scored the highest on “warrior” but my second highest was “orphan”. it felt so true. that underlying fear of abandonment can be so strong. love to you from colorado…

    sam – yeah, “the stuff, the authority, the knowledge just doesn’t work anymore.” i agree, i don’t think it ever did. sometimes i laugh out loud when i think about what Jesus was calling everyone to in the gospels and how what we’ve built is precisely what he was railing against. weird.

    minnow – of course, always feel free. i haven’t caught up on reading everyone’s yet but look forward to it. hope all’s well with you…

    – thanks for reading & thanks for your post, too. i really liked it. there are a lot of orphans out here, that’s for sure. we’re in good company.

    – so glad you’re here!

    – that is such a pretty story and always reminds me of how those little acts of love redeem and heal. thanks for facilitating this synchroblog, too, it was a good one

    bethmyra – yeah, i know what you mean, that is what i was originally taught–this is spiritual and that’s not. letting go of that and seeing God in all things is wildly freeing. thanks for sharing.


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