On Meandering Journeys and Spirit-dreamsJuly 23, 2015 | Found in: Academy
Four years ago, I shuffled on a plane with my four-month-old son and all his paraphernalia and flew from Portland, OR to Tulsa to participate in the first retreat for the first cohort of the Academy for Missional Wisdom, now called Launch and Lead Co-op. A year earlier, I’d heard co-founder Elaine Heath speak at an event, and as she shared about the fledgling missional communities rooting themselves in struggling neighborhoods in the Dallas area, a little door in my heart opened. Perhaps, I thought, I would not need to leave the denomination I loved in order to live out the church I knew we were called to be.
My participation led me to create a community of families in the small town where I lived, and later to leave my ministry setting to move with my family into an intentional household in Portland. My cohort walked with me as I started a new intentional community, and I cried on their shoulders (quite literally) when that first effort went up in flames (thankfully not literally). And as I wondered what next step I would take toward my Spirit-dream, they pointed out how faithful I had been, and how faithful God is. Being on this journey together with that wonderful group, and with others who have come alongside us, has been of incredible value to me.
Now, here in Portland, we are creating Launch and Lead Northwest, a hybrid version of the formation program that has been known as the Academy for Missional Wisdom. Beginning in January, folks in and near northwest Oregon will begin to gather for retreats, days apart, and online courses as they explore where the Spirit is at work in their neighborhoods, and what it looks like to create space for that cosmic kiss of contemplative spirituality and collective action for justice. A great experiment, as it all is, Launch and Lead NW incorporates the wisest of the Missional Wisdom folks, through online coursework and plenty of guidance, and the local wisdom-keepers who will serve as coaches and spiritual guides. My hope is that this work will nourish the seeds already planted for the birth of new communities in Oregon, and for the transformation of existing communities from the ground up.
I continue this work now because I still have that dream for my little family, that we will find ways to do life together with others, sharing meals and space and stuff and ourselves. That my now-4-yr-old will never experience isolation, but be surrounded by children and adults of diverse backgrounds who know him and teach him and love him over his growing up years. That we will be rooted in the neighborhood where we are, intentionally cultivating relationships with our neighbors and working together with them to make the neighborhood look like our common dreams. That we would all know that we are incredibly powerful and, with the guidance of the Spirit, can create together what we have hoped for and have even glimpsed.
I continue to do this work because I have heard other stories of longing for connection, for a sharing economy, for enoughness, for community, for a change to systems that divide and oppress. I have heard those Spirit-dreams, of people living together, of spaces where we can be our whole selves, where others invite us to be even more fully who we are and act on the things we care about.
And I continue to do this work because it makes me hopeful about the church--not our denominations or our crumbling buildings, but the beloved community. Really, it’s about people coming together to consider, “How are we being called to be the beloved community, every day, in the places where we are, with the people who live with us and live around us?”
I have immeasurable gratitude for those I’ve met through the Missional Wisdom Foundation, who demonstrate constant striving toward faithful, integrated lives, and who have supported and encouraged me as we are on this road together. Cheers to the next leg of the journey!