Sunday, September 30, 2007

Salt Lake City

We went to the Episcopal Cathedral this morning. Then to the One World Cafe for lunch.

St. Mark's Cathedral had a very interesting welcome/explanation statement on the back of their bulletin. It is long, but worth sharing here...

"If you are passing by and feel intimidated or angry because of religion, please know that there is immunity granted when you enter St. Mark's Cathedral. Immunity from the ravages of religion and misuse of Divine revelation.

We live in a time of religious zealots, abortion clinic bombings, and TV evangelists attempting to take power in our land. How do you find persuasiveness rather than coercion and will-to-dominate in religion? An answer is St. Mark's Cathedral. Here operates an unconditional surrender to the freedom of God to speak to whomever in whatever language is understandable to you. Immunity from religious control is granted you upon entry. St. Mark's offers sanctuary to everyone and promises this glorious freedom of God as the climate to explore the healthiest living that religion affords.

If you are passing by and feel hesitant to join in the ranks of a particular denomination or buy into the creeds of millions, please know that most people who enter St. Mark's every week are practicing no regular religious discipline. The rule of St. Mark's is the stranger making himself or herself at home. All names are sacred here but none must place one's name on a membership list to be taken seriously.

Perhaps you quietly dropped by wanting to reconnect in your relationship with God, or to surrender a burden. Or to pray for a loved one. Or to meditate on a hard personal dilemma. Or find a moment of peace. A cathedral has a high ceiling and long aisles to allow the contained soul an opportunity to venture forth in multiple directions without the encumbrances of forced community. St. Mark's offers ages of spiritual space to which anonymous individuals may be on pilgrimage.

If you are passing by and feel that life is fragmenting into a vast number of irreconcilable, shattered pieces, then please know that St. Mark's holds an outrageous hope that, in God alone, all aspects of life are in unity. We believe that God is the Alpha, the beginning and that God is the Omega, the ending of all things.

So we are called to extravagant hospitality in the confidence that a gracious welcome is central to a cathedral's purpose. And yes, we are part of a specific religious tradition. We are so, not because one religious tradition exclusively contains all truth, but because when one goes on a long journey toward ultimate unity, one has to depart form one specific place. St. Mark's Cathedral, Episcopal Diocese of Utah, is our point of departure. And our companion and ultimate confidence in the journey is Jesus Christ. We believe Him to be the clear manifestation of God's love for the whole world and the expression that all of our lives are in ultimate unity even beyond the finality of death.

In the midst of what appears to be an ever-increasing fragmentation of life, St. Mark's offers a House of Prayer for all people, an abiding hope that there is a Oneness at the center of human life.

Enter, pray and may your time here be blessed."

Saturday, September 29, 2007


We are in Evanston, Wyoming tonight.

Our contact in Jackson Hole didn't work out, and besides, it was supposed to snow there this weekend.

So we headed toward Salt Lake City, Utah, this morning. But then mid afternoon it started raining. Then the windshield wipers stopped working. Then it started snowing. And so here we are.

Rocky is wearing her sweater and we have the space heater going.

And besides, it's time for Sabbath rest taking anyway.

We ran on veggie oil for part of the way today once we got it warm.

We filled up the 20 gallon tank at the New Mandarin Chinese Restaurant in Laramie. We highly recommend it for scrumptious morsels and WVO (waste vegetable oil) should you find yourself there.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Rainbow Community

We went to the Rainbow Resource Center at the University of Wyoming today.

It was created by the University in response to Matthew Shepard's death. The Center displays all the latest periodicals, plus a wall of books about GLBT history, coming out, memoirs, and such. It felt lively and welcoming.

A couple of years ago the university moved the growing resource center to the first floor of the student union. Students often gather at noon to eat lunch together, they told us. We had a fun time talking to some of them today.

The memorial to Matthew Shepard on the university is this bench.


I wonder if I would find Laramie, Wyoming such a chilling place if I didn't know about Matthew Shepard.

--if I hadn't been a college student myself almost 9 years ago, when the rallies began around what had happened to him. I tied that green and yellow ribbon to my purple backpack, and it stayed there long after I had left college.

When Matthew Shepard died, I thought everything was going to change. I wasn't even really out to myself then, but I cared a lot about queer rights. I remember marching through downtown Chicago, listening to the names of all the LGBT people who had been murdered that year in Chicago alone. I thought, "This is it. This is what will bring enough attention to these horrible acts to end them. Things are going to be different. No one else will die because of who they love, or because of how they understand gender and sexuality."

But last night, creeping out of the camper in the dead of the night to go to the bathroom, I was scared. I felt a chill in this place deeper than the cold air. The moon was high and almost full and I wondered how Matthew felt that night tied to the fence as the life drained out of him. I wondered what he thought of as he saw the sunrise over the fields.

They passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crime Act, I'm told. I also hear that President Bush will veto it. No special treatment for queer folk. If someone wants to kill them just because of who they are, that's no different than it would be if they killed them for their wallet.

I wonder if Matthew Shepard's parents would agree. I wonder if the people of Laramie would agree. I'm sure there are queer folk here and homophobic folk and every kind of person in between, but I doubt most of them would beat a man to death for supposedly hitting on them.

Yet still, almost nine years later, its a cold place.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Week in Pictures

We sent our latest email update this afternoon. If you didn't receive it and would like to be sure and sign up on our website.

Here are some pics from the last week.

In Boulder one day we did our morning 20 minutes of silence in this field. It was near one of three Boulder Community Centers.

With the main waste veggie oil tank still broke like a joke, we filled up on 100 percent biodiesel in Boulder.

We went to Denver to visit the S.A.M.E. cafe. Which you can read more about on the website (www.jointheliving) under Encounters.

We drove to the "Denver East KOA" to stay after our visit to Denver. It was about 25 miles outside of Denver, however. On our way to the site we saw a sign for "Oklahoma State University memorial site." Because that's where Carol graduated we had to go. It was what she sadly expected down the miles of dirt road it took to get there: the site of a plane crash in 2001 that killed 8 of the basketball staff and two student athletes.

We were pleased to get to meet up and coming assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Patricia Malesh. She introduced us to the Boulder Tea House and taught us a great deal about social change. One interesting highlight: If you are trying to convert people to the vegan life, you don't show people pictures of dead rabbits. Instead you throw a fabulous dinner party and invite people to taste the goodness for themselves. Read, inwardly digest, and apply to your particular cause.

We had a fabulous time hanging out with the Refuge. We went to their theology pub night, their longterm visioning meeting called Infusion, a Sunday night service under a tent, and had coffee with their co-pastors Kathy and Karl who are a total hoot and tremendously gifted and creative ministers.

Rocky is now our only travel companion.

Here, Rocky is on the lookout for mating Elk northeast of Estes Park, Colorado.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Travels with Rocky

Rocky, our smallest dog, is now the only pet traveling with us. Perry and Houston being safe in other homes until we can be re-united after our trip.

She is mostly content to sit quietly beside us. She loves fetch and the sun. But she is also very nervous about strange places and big dogs, and she has been barking and growling more than usual since we have begun our travels.

So I have been trying to train her to be quiet. It goes something like this:

Rocky: Bark! Bark!
Me: Quiet, Rocky, quiet!
Rocky: Grrrrrr
Me: No. Quiet.
Good Quiet.
Rocky: Grrrrrr
Me: No. Quiet.
Good Quiet.

She might be getting it. But in sitting and repeating this pattern for several minutes several times a day, I have realized that I often have this same conversation with myself. All of my anxiety in this living off the grid thing, all of my fear about things unnamed, is like a little scared dog that I keep trying to quiet. And it works for a moment, but then I'm scared again.

Can we train ourselves? Should we?

Bread & Oranges

You can now download a pdf of the pilot issue of Bread & Oranges, the forthcoming magazine of Join the Living.

On THIS page of the website look under Bread & Oranges for a link to the pdf download.

Why the name Bread & Oranges? It came to me in a dream. What does it make you think about?

Same Cafe up on the website

We have stopped traveling for a few days to integrate all that we've encountered so far.

We now have two stories up on the Encounters page on the website. One is about the SAME (So All May Eat) Cafe in Denver. It's a pay what you can restaurant. The other article is about a Lutheran minister in Flagstaff, Arizona, who is starting a new sort of church.

We have many more to come: An interview with a professor at Naropa University who teaches community building. How social change has changed in the last 50 years, from a conversation with a professor at the University of Colorado. More about the alternative church called the Refuge that we hung out with for a week. And that's just Colorado not to mention all we experienced in New Mexico like the Center for Action and Contemplation, the progressive Episcopal church in Albuquerque, Earthships in Taos, and more more more.

We are asking people what makes them come alive these days. Here's a clip from Brad Birky, co-founder of the SAME cafe in Denver answering the question.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mountain Living

This week we've spent in the Boulder/Denver area.

The word of the week seems to be: Community.

We've hung out with a community called The Refuge for several of their events this week. Their co-leaders used to be on staff at a gigantor Christian church that questioned the okayness of women preaching on Sunday. They found it to be less than life-giving. Wounding even. So a year and a few months ago they followed their hearts and now find themselves co-pastoring an off the grid community. This community of Jesus followers seek to take Jesus words seriously and live accordingly. Full of love, unperfectness, and more questions than answers, they were fun to be around.

Earlier this week we traveled to Denver where we interviewed one of the founders of the SAME cafe. SAME stands for So All May Eat. It is a volunteer or pay-what-you-can lunch cafe. Brad and Libby Birky started the cafe because they think that all people regardless of their abiltity to pay for it deserve to eat healthy food. Only a few weeks after opening, folks started to volunteer their time in exchange for a meal. Now almost two years later they are breaking even on expenses. Considering that most restaurants go out of business with in two years, they are doing fabulous. Brad said that the community that has emerged in and through the cafe gives him life these days.

We shared a lovely tea time with a Colorado University professor who studies social change. For her Ph.D. she studied the religious language in vegan/vegetarian conversion stories. She lives in a vegan community and was delightful and inspiring.

More later.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In case you're wondering about our day to day

Yesterday we ate at a cool local diner in Boulder, filled up on some local biodiesel, tried unsuccessfully to find some local veggie oil, and decided we should just fix the cracked tank instead.

We also went back to visit the refuge, where they were doing something they call infusion-- reflecting together as a community on their future. They were incredibly welcoming to us, and we found the whole process fascinating.

Today we head to Denver. We'll let you know what we find.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Free Running at the Refuge

Kate is writing up our church experiences from yesterday.

In the meantime, I'll post our first video. Some of the teenage guys at Refuge in Broomfield, Colorado, were being alive and free running.

The video is pretty dark. But they were fun, and I told them I'd try to post this. Sorry I didn't get your names, guys. Keep being free and expressing yourselves.


Yesterday, we went to church for the first time since Scottsdale UCC, in Arizona before the pilgrimage began.

We actually went to church twice, in fact. Maybe we were trying to make up for something.

Our first stop was the regular kind of church. We wanted to find a progressive church in Colorado Springs, which is the seat of Focus on the Family, and thus, seemingly dominated by conservative Christians. We chose to go to First Congregational Church, a Christian church in the United Church of Christ tradition.

I realized I have not visited an Episcopal church since I stopped working at one, but this is mostly because, to be honest, there is no guarantee we would be safe in a Episcopal church, and frankly, life is too short to sit in a church where I can't hold my lovers hand. I don't have time for that.

And, we did learn that the Episcopal Church in Colorado Springs is trying to leave the diocese over the whole Gene Robinson thing. Rather, the priest and a small group of parishioners have taken over the building we were told. The remnant is worshiping in a Christian church down the street. The man we spoke to seemed to believe it was ironic that the priest had started lambasting the Episcopal Church right after it became clear he was using bequests to the church to fund his children's education, etc. I hope you will pray for them all, if that is your scene.

Anyway, I've begun to think that life is too short to spend it in a church even if you can hold your lover's hand.

Here are my observations about Church #1

1) Church is boring. If we really believe the Bible to be sacred, how is having someone lecture about it for 20 minutes treating it as such? How are you supposed to connect to God at a show with 200 other people?

2) Everyone wants to be Episcopalian except the Episcopalians. I don't know much about the UCC, so forgive me if I'm speaking out of turn, but I gather they're not a very liturgical tradition over all.

But this church stood and sang before the gospel readings and had acolytes and overall seemed to be trying to push toward that more liturgical style of worship. They also hosted a Taize service.

Meanwhile, in my part of the world, Episcopalians seem to long to be evangelicals, in the hopes that it will grow our dying denomination. Who can explain these things?

3) Most mainstream churches are not comfortable with anything but hope and joy. There's no place for lament. And very little room for confession or despair.

It's funny, because we're so good at Lent and we seem to pretend Easter's not there. But maybe that's because we spend the rest of the year pretending there is nothing but resurrection. That death doesn't happen. I do not want to sing Amazing Grace, because I still feel lost in grief over loosing my mother. So what am I supposed to do while a room full of strangers passionately belts out that song?

Church #2

I found the second church we went to Sunday through an emergent church website.

They're called The Refuge and they say they want to be "a different kind of Christians," that they care more about following Jesus than church and religion.

This month, they are exploring God out of the box, and yesterday they had two people who wrote a book called Jim and Casper Go to Church come and do a talk and question and answer session.

In a twist of irony (given the theme), they were forced outside of the church where they regularly meet, and so we gathered to jazzy sort of music from a live band under a tent with 100 other people and rice krispie treats and brownies and bottled water to hear an atheist and an evangelical talk about how church might need to change.

Here are my observations on Church #2:

1) I liked this church a lot better. Although I missed taking communion (the UCC church did not offer it either at the 11 a.m. service). But instead of pretending a lecture is church, why not just have church be a lecture? Especially since this one had questions and answers!

2) Everything about this church felt more free. People laughed and joked a lot. I was initially nervous about this church because it seemed to be a little heavy on the brokenness when I read their website. But for someone who wishes the church allowed for more brokenness, I had a lot of fun.

I left feeling light and energized. Jim (the evangelical on the right in the picture above. Matt Casper is the atheist on the left) said he follows Jesus because he's the freest person he knows of. If that is true, then church should be a free feeling place, right?

3) The church has a lot to learn from atheists. I feel I could go on forever on this point, but here are three things listening to Casper (the atheist) made me think about:

• Language matters. How we talk about God matters. The exact things that Casper said made him not believe in God, are the things that I use to describe why I believe there is a God. For instance, Casper said that it strikes him as more awe inspiring that we became conscious beings on a long shot, than that a God zapped us into being. It was also a little awkward to hear talk of "non-Christians," the "lost," and "unchurched," in the presence of someone who they were referring to. Those words are insider language and do nothing to create a welcoming atmosphere for someone like Casper.

• Open-mindedness should be authentic. If you are going to e in dialogue with someone you need to realize that they may leave the conversation with a different opinion than you.

• If we are calling ourselves Christians, how we manifest following Jesus in our lives should be 100% more important than putting on a good show at church.

It's a funny and insightful book so far. They travel all over the country to the biggies of mostly the evangelical church world. The back cover sums up what Casper said after leaving church with Jim after one worship service, "Is this what Jesus told you guys to do."

I recommend it.

Meet Ted

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Watch some videos from

From the website: "TED is best thought of as a global community. It's a community welcoming people from every discipline and culture who have just two things in common: they seek a deeper understanding of the world, and they hope to turn that understanding into a better future for us all."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Signs along the way

Some of the signs we've seen lately...

The car this sticker was on is from the Golden Rule car dealership.

Tiles outside the Peace & Justice center of Albuquerque.

"Your Spirit is Free," proclaims this dancing deer outside Santa Fe.

Don't tell my brother the cattle rancher this...

Saw this one at a local coffee shop in Taos...

Friday, September 14, 2007


Today, we filled three empty film canisters with holy dirt, and then went to a house made of garbage.

Santuario de Chimayo is a sacred miracle place for healing. Eileen, who I met in Santa Fe because of a dream I had, told me about it. She said that when they decided to build a church there, they put a cross in the ground where they wanted to build a church, and they woke up the next day and it was in a different place.

So they put it back. And then the next day it was moved again. And so it went. Until they finally realized they needed to build the church in the place where the cross kept moving to. So almost 200 hundred years ago they built this beautiful little chapel. The altar is wooden, and there's a little room off to the side filled with crutches and pictures of Jesus and statues of saints.
Then, off that room, is the place with the sacred dirt. Apparently, it heals people. In addition to filling the three vials, I put the sand on my hands and heart and head. I'm going for the full on healing thing. Chimayo, the surrounding town, has a ancient, happy, beautiful spirit to it, which radiates from the chapel. It was a place of great peace. I left a cross on the fence in memory of my mother.

Earthship is a new kind of sustainable housing. There's a whole community of people a few miles north of Taos who live in houses that collect their own energy and water and grow their own food. Plus they're made of old tires and bottles and cans. The man who started the whole thing has built houses all over the world. And they're nice, pretty houses.

Today, I believe that anything is possible. That even if we cannot save ourselves, the universe might save us anyway, and that for every person who has lost hope there is at least one who is bringing hope to the world.

And I can't wait to go back to Tucson and build a church out of old tires and put a little magic dirt in a shrine to all those who seek healing.

Grab bag

Today is a clean and organize the camper and writing sort of day. Later we are going to check out some houses that are totally self-sustaining with water/solar/everything.

It's crazy cold here in northern New Mexico. Which means it's 70 degrees and we have to wear socks in the shade. I don't know what we are going to do. At night it's like 50. Why didn't we bring that other sleeping bag! Just some ridiculous whining from a desert dweller.

We finally saw some pics from our wedding back on August 9 on Mt. Lemmon. Here's one of Kate looking very fabulous.

If you didn't hear or see it. One of the Tucson news stations did a story about our trip before we left last week. This link will take you to a page where you can read a story and click on the tiny tv camera to watch the video.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


A quick update.

On Monday we made it Albuquerque where we lunched with the Rev. Carole McGowan, a progressive priest. That afternoon we sat in silence with the folks at the Center for Action and Contemplation, and were invited to supper with the six work interns there.

We were privileged to get to hear the heart longings of what made them leave their lives as they knew it to travel there and live for a while with daily silence and intentional spiritual formation.

On Tuesday in Santa Fe, Kate met a woman who literally came to her in a dream a few weeks ago.

On Wednesday morning we sang chants at 5:30 in the morning with Joan and Jeff, two very devout yoga practitioners.

And we sabbathed (rested with great intention and gratefulness) yesterday at a communal Japanese inspired bath/spa with naked women laying around in the sun like lizards.

We are running on biodiesel that we pumped in Santa Fe.

We haven't been able to collect waste veggie oil yet due to a crack in our main collection barrel on the roof. We are on the lookout for a new one.

Tonight we are at a friendly RV camp between Santa Fe and Taos. Tomorrow we go to look at Earthships.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Two miracles for today

Today two miracles occurred:

1) We left Tucson! (a feat I had begun to believe was impossible)

2) We drove all the way to our first destination on veggie oil (which we had believed would be equally impossible)

Hooray for today!

Begin. The rest is easy.

Not long ago one of us got a fortune cookie that said, "Begin, the rest is easy." Whew. How true. It takes more time and energy to do things out of the box.

While we have no idea what adventures will come. So far, waking up to the sunrise, and the joy of being on this pilgrimage, are far easier than getting ready to begin.

Yesterday we checked in one last time with our cat Perry at his new foster home. Thanks to Alicia and Mark for taking him in.

All of our stuff fit into storage. Barely. It is freeing to live without much in the camper.

The gospel reading for this morning ends with Jesus saying, "So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions."

I'm not sure how Jesus would feel about storage units. Maybe our trip will teach us to live with less and to let more go. I hope so.

One last shot in front of the first house that Kate and I lived in together.

And then a shot of the second house we will live in together.

We drove out of town on veggie oil and even got up to around 60 miles per hour.

It's nice rambling peacefully along at an easy pace. Judith of St. Hildegard's writes that perhaps we are like 21st Century pioneers using veggie oil instead of horses.

It's a word picture that goes well with our pilgrimage. Tony Jones, a guy who is the point person for Emergent Village right now, used a similar image to describe the new incarnations of faith communities and cultural shifts of our day. We heard him speak at the national cathedral in May for a church for the 21st Century conference.

Many have already gone before us to set up posts in the frontier. We'll send dispatches as we discover them.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Friday Take Off

It is nearing midnight.

We are just back from picking up the truck at the veggie mechanic near Phoenix. $598 later it has better electrical wiring. The mechanic said it could use a new veggie fuel pump. Which may explain why it now doesn't seem to run on veggie oil at speeds over 40 miles per hour.

We are planing to drive out on diesel on Friday and get a new fuel pump down the road. Our first stop is Elephant Butte Lake in New Mexico, on our way to a retreat center to interview some young adults who are working/interning there.

Tomorrow we'll clean the camper, stuff our things in. Maybe give it some paint. Take the rest of our stuff to storage. Try to finish up final changes for a freelance client on an annual report. Try to do some last minute phone calls and paper shuffling to get our health insurance in place. We currently don't have any. We started applying for it way over a month ago.

We also don't have a place for the pets. There's one more possible home for Perry the cat to check out. And we can only hope Kate's dad will let the dogs stay in Colorado for a while.

What's done is done. What's left undone is left undone. This day is over. It is time to rest.