A Small Miracle For A Hopeless Wanderer

Hello Sunday Morning Readers!

Last week I promised to tell you what Dani, JD and I have been doing on Sunday mornings for the last five months. I hope you weren’t waiting for fireworks. All we’ve been doing is eating breakfast with another couple. That’s it. Nothing to light up the sky.

They’re a cool couple though. They both work in the health care industry. They own a home in the 19th ward. They like to watch cheesy horror flicks or hit up foodie joints in town. Anyway, we’ve been brunching on Sundays and between bites we’ve been talking about where we’re at spiritually and where we want to go.

I’m happy about our little ritual but it’s for reasons that aren’t very sexy. We eat. We talk. We hug. We leave. We’re not growing in numbers. The high-watermarks of our spiritual lives aren’t rising in any quantifiable way. All we’ve truly got is a regular rhythm and a slow growing trust. The reason I’m hopeful is because I think we’re building the kind of trust where you can eventually talk about what’s really bothering you.

I saw a glimpse of it one Sunday back in November when Dani spoke about a wall she has erected. I wish you could have been there. It was the kind of moment you wait for- where the room temperature jumps by five degrees and you suddenly want to curl your toes into the carpet.danibeanbag1

“I used to try so hard to believe everything,” Dani whispered, “to be the very best believer in the sanctuary.” Her voice cracked; my mouth fell open. As the guy who cares the most for her well-being I’ve paid keen attention to the conversations we don’t have, to the way years can roll forward and almost make you forget about what you’ve left behind.

I looked over at the other couple, still almost strangers, still without the context of our years of ambivalence. They couldn’t yet know that these sentences were sunken treasure. But I knew. I knew that it was the beginning of the end of a long internal ice age.

Dani continued between tears. “I just couldn’t do it anymore.” She peered into the depths of the carpet while I held my spine in place. I wanted to reach over and grab her hand or rub her leg or do something to wipe away the shame. But in that moment we all were pressed like gumdrops into beanbags. Dani said she was exhausted. That the spiritual equations never quite added up for her.

She said that she felt freer now that everything was shoved into the background. She said that even Jesus felt ominous and unsafe now; like maybe Jesus was the free iPhone you get when you buy a contract and you barely notice that the contract comes with a thousand additional charges that bankrupt you in the end.

For that fleeting monologue Dani was the center of a room where she prefers to hold a silence in the corner. And her tears made her eyes even brighter because they weren’t ordinary tears, they were the tears of old fears that you instinctively hide- liquid remnants of fermented shame.babydanibeanbag

The conversation didn’t exactly resolve after that. There was no altar call, no moment of decision. But I’m convinced that there was a shift in our personal tectonic plates. Either that or another hunk of glacial ice fell into the sea. What I mean is that even though no tidal wave immediately swept over us, big things were stirring way down below the surface.

That’s why I’m hopeful. Because amid our ordinary efforts I see sparks of grace. Small miracles to remind me that so many of us are longing for resolution. And that maybe the less visible shifts are the shifts that shake the firmament in the long run.

But the brightest spark in our sky has been this new couple, our sudden and closest allies. It’s uncanny how similar the dream that flickered in them before we met. They also wanted a place to tell the truth, to search, to rediscover. They weren’t bitter but they weren’t going back to where they came from either. So we’ve linked ropes with them and started floating toward some unknown destination in hopes of finding God.daveshanigang

Why am I telling you all this? Well, the primary reason is that I don’t think we’re the only four adults with this itch. And I’m wondering if some of you are already doing anything like what we’re doing? If so, I’d love to hear from you. What’s working? What’s not? What are you learning and how are you growing?

And if there aren’t a lot of spontaneous communities popping to the surface, why couldn’t there be more? Couldn’t some of you float rafts like ours in your own locale? I don’t see why not. It’s really nothing more than a recurring meeting with the hope of finding God.

I just keep imagining what it could be like if we had a loose fleet of folks who began reconnecting- with one another and with a God who made sense to them each individually. I bet that some of our private depressions would lift, that some of our gnarly resentments would unravel, that even some of our most frayed relationships would begin to mend. I only say that because I believe that I’m witnessing the early stages of it in my own life. It’s almost like the byproduct of a spiritual life in bloom. And I can’t shake the conviction that it’s available to any of us, all of us, even those of us who have been hopeless wanderers.

That brings me to my secondary reason: If by chance you’ve been wandering near Rochester, NY, I want to invite you to visit our little gathering. We’re solid enough now where we’d love to our share our strange little miracle with you. Please contact me via Facebook, Twitter, or email me at matthewbdrake@gmail.com. I’d be happy to add you to our private Facebook group and JD promises not to let Dani cry in front of you on your first visit.babybeanbag


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