dreaming & making what could be, be.

dreaming and making what could be be 3in honor of martin luther king, jr. day, i thought i would post a little excerpt about dreams from my book, down we go: living into the wild ways of Jesus.  it was originally inspired by a post i wrote in 2007 for the refuge blog called “we have a dream”; then i modified it in 2009 for communitas collective & shared a re-dux in 2010 in honor of MLK day two years ago.  last year, when i was writing the book, it went through another revision.  each time i read it i am reminded that part of making what could be, be begins with dreaming.

however, the kingdom isn’t going to just drop out of the sky.  we are going to have to be active participants in creating it.  it is hard.  it is uphill.  it is against the grain. but it’s possible.  and what Jesus challenges us to as his followers.

so here you go, some of my own little church-faith-life dreams, capital letters and all, from pages 85-87:

Making What Could Be, Be.

As a dreamer, I like to imagine what could be. 

Despite some of my cynicism about church systems, I am still an idealist. Change is possible; otherwise I would have given up a long time ago. I am still foolish enough to think that our wild “God dreams” are possible. I think when Jesus said “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), he meant that the Kingdom was possible now.  I also know it’s possible because I see it every day in small and beautiful ways.  I see the marginalized, forgotten, neglected and abused finding love and hope through healing community.

For a lot of us, it’s hard to dream.  Almost every time I challenge people to dream it stirs up fear and trouble.  We’ve hoped before and had many of our dreams dashed, mocked and called unrealistic or impractical. Many have tried to make their dreams a reality in systems that rejected them, and they’ve lost a lot of hope. The thought of opening hearts back up again is too scary. Others are in the midst of living out dreams and are finding how hard they can sometimes be.  Often we can think of all the reasons our dreams won’t work, so why even try? 

But here’s why I think we should try.  These Kingdom ways aren’t supposed to be a pipe dream, or an elusive, unrealistic and unobtainable idea that we know will never happen.  Jesus’ ways of upside down living require imagination and hope. They require crazy people willing to live out what’s embedded deep inside their hearts, regardless of the cost.  They require courageous women and men who risk their money, time and pride to go against the flow of the powerful status quo and create little pockets of love that reflect Jesus, rather than the world.  They require humble disciples, followers of Christ, who try as best they can to heal the sick, feed the hungry, care for the poor, love the unlovely, and pass on hope in places where there is none.  Most of all, these Kingdom ways require people with eyes to see more beauty and hope in the often ugly, messy, downward journey than on the predictable, comfortable upwardly mobile path. 

The other night I was with some Refuge friends at our house talking about dreaming.  Even though I want people to dream big, I also want people to dream small.  To value simple ways we can move toward more of Christ’s love, life and hope in this world.  I shared with my friends how many years ago I dreamed of the kind of community I am now part of—one that was inclusive, authentic and healing, and valued generosity, equality and the practice of love, above all.  In my dreams, it looked completely different.  Trust me, it was a lot prettier, easier, bigger and brighter.  Yet, even though my original picture was different, the flesh and bones of what I had hoped for has come true.  I’m experiencing it in real life.  I am grateful but also not afraid to keep dreaming for more.  I want others to have a chance to taste and see, too. 

So I keep dreaming, trying to play my small part in the bigger story.

When I stop and allow myself to really imagine, I dream that we’d be people who took Jesus’ words seriously.  We can’t just talk about it, but we actually have to be forgiving, loving, sacrificing and humble. I hope we are people willing to give away our stuff, care for the widows and orphans, die to ourselves, hug lepers, love our neighbors, lay down power and make peace with our enemies.

I dream that all people would feel valued, regardless of our differences.  I hope we become people who refuse to let color, socioeconomics, gender, theologies, shapes, sizes, or social abilities get in the way of seeing the image of God and respecting each other’s worth, value and contribution to this world. I hope we will continue to find ways for women, men, white, brown, poor and rich to work equally and fully alongside one other as brothers, sisters, leaders and friends.

I dream that the divide between “us and them” will continue to crumble.

I dream that Christ-followers will form into an underground army of advocates, that we will stand with the marginalized, oppressed, poor and unlovely, and will risk our pride, position and power so that someone with none could get a little.

I dream that damage from the past and present will not paralyze us from living out who God made us to be; instead, we’d use our story to help another person.

I dream a whole bunch of us will find ways to create little pockets of love in places that desperately need them so that we will be known by the world as “those crazy people who never give up on the hurting, the lost, the oppressed and the outcasts.”

Never be afraid to dream.

these are some of mine.  what are some of your dreams, no matter how big or small?

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life and online. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver 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.

11 Comments

  • We dream of similar things. I see it happening, but usually in “small pockets”. Loving the unlovely and the marginalized and empowering them to be fully equal with us is not exactly the popular thing to do, even among church folk.

    Once upon a time I tried to behave properly. A long time ago I chucked that and try to follow Jesus, sometimes into places that make some people uncomfortable.

    Try to picture me hugging a homeless person, a biker on his Harley in his full leathers in the middle of the street or a LGBT person while the church folk look on in horror. (This is not an exercise in imagination. It’s who I am.) That picture kind of characterizes my dream, my dream that we who follow Jesus will someday learn to love and accept all of God’s children.

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    • i just can’t for the life of me picture you behaving properly, ha ha. but alas, we all used to live another life, eh? so glad that God stirred up a way better plan. once you’ve tasted freedom, nothing else will satisfy.

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  • Dreaming is so scary for me lately, but re-reading this 🙂 actually reminded me how much I have changed? No longer am I disconnected from what I can do (*insert unrealistic superhero theme music*), but now a sense of different kinds of possibilities are in view. Oh, but the irony is that the one day at a time is necessary to have a future. Sigh. Thank you for helping ground me, yet at the same time giving me wings. xo

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    • life around here is awfully ironic. so glad you are part of this crazy beautiful possible dream.

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  • Kathy, I’m so glad (underscore) that I stumbled upon your blog. You have a beautiful and gentle way of conveying such a strong and important message. I am particularly moved by this post as it resonates with me in so many ways. I am a military spouse, a mother of three, and a student of theology currently living in the Middle East. Inter-faith dialogue has become a passion of mine and so I share your dream “…that the divide between ‘us and them’ will continue to crumble.” Everyday I see God revealed in his people in all sorts of beautiful ways and that gives me the hope–and the courage–to dream that the kingdom can be experienced in the here and now. I am constantly inspired by the stories of others from various cultures, creeds, races, and socio-economic backgrounds. God’s creation is vast and varied and should be appreciated for the variety. As followers of Christ I believe we are called to celebrate his diversity by loving our neighbors with hands reaching out, rather than turning our backs on those who need our love and our understanding.

    And, so I too “…keep dreaming, trying to play my small part in the bigger story.” If you’re interested in reading about my “small part,” you can check out my blog at http://ekgrayson.wordpress.com/. It’s not nearly as professional looking as yours, but it’s a start…and I remain hopeful that it’s working for the good. Thank you!

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    • thanks so much for taking time to share, erin, and i’m glad you somehow found your way here. you are in good company with that no-us-them dream, so many others longing for those walls to be broken down that divide us. i am not sure where you are over there, but i have some really amazing friends with some of the same dreams who are living over there, too, that we knew from our military days. i know there’s a lot that can’t be shared openly about life there but if you want to email me i can pass on any connections. when i read your blog i thought of them and a few other friends who used to live there, too. keep writing, it matters! and peace to you and your family from afar.

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  • I dream of the day when I find a community of christ-followers like you and Frank Viols describe. Not so much the kind, or flavor, but the character of the people. People who care nothing about size and doctinal statements, but who live out their beliefs in a community that follows christ by loving the least.

    a pastor once upon a time

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    • you are not alone in your dream. thanks for sharing. my guess is you are still a pastor and probably the kind that is very hard to find, the ones who care about people without programs & structures & paychecks & roles and are very much needed for these kinds of dreams. thanks so much for taking time to share.

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      • Thanks for the encouragement, I left the full-time ministry three and a half years ago because I could no longer promote denominational paradigms and continue managing the status quo. I had known for quite awhile that things were not the way they were supposed to be< but I kept dealing with the symptoms and not the pathology. So I promoted a new program, a new staff position or shared my doctoral research. It became intolerable and I became something other than a godly shepherd.

        I will keep dreaming and thanks for your refreshingvision and heart for the least

        Reply

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