In January of 2014, Kaylanne and I loaded our little Dodge Caliber with as much of our life as it would hold. We stuffed our last possessions in through the windows, latched giant duffle bags to the top of the car, and strapped our bikes onto the back. We headed west from Waco, through Ft. Worth, Santa Fe, Christ in the Desert Monastery, and Copper Mountain on our way to the little bedroom that awaited us at the Denver Catholic Worker House. We had no jobs lined up, no paychecks on their way, no sense of what life was really going to look like, but we had the sense that we were being called towards something together, and we clung to that calling as we set out on a journey of faith.
We intended to live at the Worker House for twelve months. But that process proved to be more difficult than we could both bear and bear to admit. As things unraveled, I realized that my primary responsibilities at the Worker House were conflict resolution and prayer. This did not come extremely naturally for me at first. I was not ready to stand firm and tell the crack addicted and abusive husband and father of the family living inside our house that he needed to leave our premises in the middle of the night. I was not ready to be held at gunpoint while the swat team invaded our house looking for a so-called “fugitive” that we were housing. I was not ready to receive a call at 10pm informing me that the “couple” living two doors down from Kaylanne and me was really an incestuous father-daughter relationship and she was carrying his meth-addicted baby for the second time. I had skipped over the classes in seminary that taught me how to respond non-violently in those situations, and I became extremely overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, my life with God deepened. In silence I settled into the only space that made sense of the world—the deep well whose name is Love and is the very source of my being. At noon each day, I sat down with Anna and Jennifer, chimed a bell, and rested in the oasis that is God. Through prayer and discernment I realized that the peace I experienced in those moments was the peace that God desired for me to experience in each moment of my life and work. I had this idea that I was supposed to “take up my cross” and suffer alongside of those who suffered, but in prayer I began to realize that this is not the deepest desire of God.
Now, the words of Brother Emmanuel from Taize echo in my soul, “God wants each of us to be happy.” This truth is not the so-called “prosperity gospel,” but it is the good news that a heart that seeks God and knows God will find happiness and satisfaction in the things of God. One day I told my spiritual director that I was considering getting an apartment because I wanted some respite space to live with Kaylanne without all of the chaos of the Worker House constantly invading my life. In doing so, I confessed to her that I was afraid to break my commitment, that I was afraid of being unfaithful, moreover, I confessed to her that I was afraid of being imperfect. The grace that she offered me in that moment was the assurance that I could trust my desires because it was God who gave me those desires.
That God is Love does not mean that life will always be easy, but it does mean that God’s ultimate will is to lead us deeper into the love of God and not away from it. The little one-bedroom apartment at 2230 California St. across from the El Paso Los Limousines Express Station became that grace-filled respite space that Kaylanne and I needed to have to ourselves for a while. In July of 2014 we moved in to our apartment adjacent to Kaylanne’s Stout St. Clinic office and found a place to settle in, to be grounded and re-oriented in the Love of God, and to re-emerge and find work and calling from that place.
Not too long after that, I found SAME Café, and there-in found a place to live out my faith and calling in a balanced way, with an ebb and flow between work and rest and community life and solitude. Over the last year we have maintained a relationship with the Worker House, and still consider ourselves to be a part of the community there. We serve dinner one night a week, and I lead the weekly worship service as a way of living out my ordination to an Ecumenical ministry. God is making a way for us, and we continue to lean into that path.
About a month ago, we took another step in faith. We loaded up our things once more, though this time they didn’t all fit in our Dodge Caliber, and we moved them to the 1886, three bedroom Victorian on Elizabeth St. that the bank and our family recently purchased in our name.
When we moved to Denver in 2014, this wasn’t in the plan. We were supposed to spend 12 months here learning and serving, before moving on to our next stop, but things have changed, and we are ready to commit to this place for the foreseeable future. We have learned to pray that we might open ourselves to receive all of the graces that God desires to give to us, and we are convinced that there are more graces here for us to receive. We are ready to embrace the Christian practice of stability; we are ready to invest in place and land. We are ready to open our doors and offer respite and hospitality to friends and strangers in need of peace and rest. Like Francis, who rebuilt God’s holy church brick by brick when it was damaged and in need of repair, we are ready to move into an old house that hold’s Denver’s history and rebuild it brick by brick through patience, gentleness, love, and care.
We hope and pray that our house on Elizabeth St. will become a creative space for encountering God in the midst of community, and we hope that you will join us in that prayer. What a wild journey this life is, thanks be to God, we are sustained always and only by faith.