5 years. 5 years? 5 years!

5 yearsthis 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.

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.

18 Comments

  • the refuge = L O V E

    we are the island of misfit toys 🙂

    i am so glad that i found you guys, and that you took me in.

    the refuge = H O M E

    love to you,
    karla

    Reply
    • karla, i am so glad you are here on the island of misfit toys. it’s pretty fun isn’t it? you are a gift, truly, the love you bring is so beautiful.

      Reply
  • Kathy- The Refuge is like the robot in Short Circuit- number 5 is alive!!!!!!! haha O know your a movie buff too so thought you would grin 🙂 So awesome to hear you authentically share the entire journey as always Kathy, not just a shiny exterior. As one who has been involved in professional ministry before and has also been shellshocked at times, you always infuse hope, dreams and grace mixed with l;ove in your words. Gonna be soooo cool to meet you and the refuge in late may early june Your smile lights up the internet as well my lovely friend!!!

    Love and peace- Robert

    Reply
    • robert – you always make me smile. i can’t wait to see you in denver, it will be great to hang out! and i haven’t forgotten the interview, either, just buried but know it’s coming back to you soon…

      Reply
  • Only makes me long for the same, so awesome and a great example, we need to get together. I’ll be in CA next week, but after

    Reply
  • Wow… 5 years already… From the word go it was beautiful, even through all the pain. Our camping trips are second to none, our celebrations of life are many– Sobriety, marriage, needed help coming, birthdays– community reaches far beyond walls or restrictions of the status quo. Loving better, deeper, more honestly are goals, and I am so grateful to get to be part of The Refuge… What a ride!

    Reply
  • Happy Happy Birthday to The Refuge and extra special love and hugs to you, Karl and the other Refuge’ers who persisted in finding God in the most unlikely of places : suburban America!

    May this fifth year be the best yet…fifth…ha! A fifth of certain beverages makes people spirited. Here’s to Your Fifth!

    Reply
    • pam – thanks my friend & awesome refuge cheerleader. we need your love and support from afar, it means more than you know. “small is beautiful”

      Reply
  • Congratulations and thank you for hanging in there and for all the contributions you have made to the lives of our sisters and brothers.

    Some of us have discovered that “all things church” includes a whole lot that isn’t the church Jesus would recognize as His body, His presence on earth. So much of it is religion, even a business, and sometimes a kingdom complete with those who imagine themselves kings (then there are also those who think themselves the Sheriff of Nottingham). Yes, indeed, there is a Kingdom where Jesus is King. Those who are part of that Kingdom probably would better be described as “a wacky band of misfits” than as prim and proper religious folk.

    Reply
    • thanks sam, glad to be part of the same wacky band of misfits from afar, your people are our people and our people are your people. love to you from colorado.

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  • Thanks from folks an ocean away; British friends of Kevin & Linsey. On this day (Friday) the thoughts about messiness and pain are poignant. Your journey has encouraged and given hope to address the cynicism that rises when confronted by the crass, controlling tendencies of so much of what calls itself church.

    From a fellow exile and traveller, here’s to the next, and many more 5 years!

    Reply
    • david – thanks so much for the encouragement from afar, it means more than you know (and oh how we miss kevin & linsey, too!) glad that our journey somehow intersects with yours. peace and love from colorado.

      Reply

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