Saturday, January 17, 2009


There are memories that dwell within us. It only takes a glance at photo to resurrect the feelings of pure happiness and nostalgia at the same time. Its hard to believe that we have done some of the things we have, namely road tripping up and down the northern California/southern Oregon coast. Stopping to enjoy a burrito a few hours north of San Francisco, then continuing the journey for another six hours. The fog and mist that hangs over the northwestern pacific pines and redwoods. Those massive trees that stand so tall and strong all the way up to the waters edge. They seem to hold onto that grayness, that pine/cedar saturated air so well until of course you sink below it, and your rented vehicle rounds the corner to the sun setting over the great Pacific.

Tents, of course, are harder to set up in the dark. Tent stakes, of course, are harder to pound into the hard ground without a hammer. Keeping warm, of course, is always easier in a two person tent with a loved one, especially when your hearts are warm with your honeymoon doubling as a homecoming.

There are places in the world where blackberries grow plump, and juicy. It just so happens that those places have no restrictions when it comes to using your God given hands to pick as many as your stomach desires. go figure. Welp, we found em' and we ate that whole dang bag full until our fingers turned purple and our stomachs begged for mercy. ha!

There are places in the world where trees grow so big that you have to wonder how them loggers didn't realize that they were so special that they were gosh darn sacred! Welp, some godly folks realized their sacredness and decided that they should at least save one or two groves. Luckily they still stand, and welp we found them too! And we hugged and gazed until our hearts couldn't take it anymore. ha!

There are places in the world that are dreamlands. Sometimes we spend more then a few days there. Luckily for us, we spent a few months in ours. It just so happens that our dreamland is our home, and we came back home for a few days. The great thing about places of your dreams is when you revisit they are exactly the same. ha!

And so we spent many days reading and wondering why trees don't grow like that back East. And at night, with our window cracked, the northwest wind would bring in its own dusty, juniper air and it would blow right past the freshly picked lavender. Have you ever smelled such a thing?

It is possible and sometimes necessary to leave your dreamland, even if it hurts you more then anything at the time. And so we did. We left Lincoln, OR, we left the great silence and solitude of the Cascade mountains, and entered back into the city. This transisition is only possible if of course you are heading to the greatest city in the whole united states, San Francisco. Yep.

There are places in this world (namely San Francisco) where you can walk around all day and feel like you've seen a representation of almost everybody in this whole wide world! San Francisco has a grit to it. Its intrigue and strangeness attract wondering souls. I guess that's why we love it too. We like to be there with all the others who are trying to figure this all out. And this all seemed like a necessary transition back into what others have called "the real world."

But of course we had to finish it where it all started. Burritos. (Namely from the Mission District)
Have you every tasted such a thing?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

There is something deeply sacred about a circle. Native American cultures understood this better then anyone. They understood that actions they took within this circle are actions that will be felt either positively or negatively later on. Fortunately for them they found ways to act within the circle that whatever came back around was almost always good.

Colonies of insects have this written into their genes. Scientists have studied communities of ants and have noticed that there is a complex system of composting, and waste removal. Within this system there is zero waste, and the ants create for themselves a completely sustainable system providing food and nourishment for the whole colony.

What will this look like in community?

Can you see the beauty in a urban landscape, which produces little to no waste? Where washing machine water is filtered through aquaculture systems, which provide food for humans and fish, and then is stored in barrels for gardening and watering. Can you imagine a system of composting where all food scraps are used to create nutrient rich soil. Can you imagine a system of insects cultures fed through food scraps, which in turn feed chickens, which in turn provides eggs for food?

I can imagine it. I can see the beauty. I want to see it happen. :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Why Life in Community?

I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading about intentional community. I am probably updating quicker then you can read, so please take the time to read the previous post if you haven't already.

As Beth and I, along with our friends prepare for life in community, I think its important to be continually challenged by the voices of those who have been doing this for a long time.

I (mark) have been reading Becoming the Answer To Our Prayers written by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. I particularly enjoyed these thoughts:
"One of the communities we have bumped into is a bunch of middle-aged parents and their kids living in the suburbs who had decided to do a little experiment in community. They started sharing garden tools and lawn mowers, doing laundry together and sharing machines. They found it was more fun to do their laundry together and spend time together while they waited. Before long, they had a community garden and had set up a way to do cooperative childcare. A few of them even moved in together. If felt so natural. Eventually, they made the front page of the newspaper, and one of the folks who had started it said, 'Isn't that weird? What we are doing is front page news. It just seemed to make sense.' If God's kingdom looks radical, it is only an indictment on the sort of Christianity we have settled for. Sharing our food with the hungry, opening our homes to the homeless, reconciling with our enemies--these are what Christianity has always been" (52).
I remember the excitement and intrigue I felt the first time I heard about these intentional communities. I could not believe that there were Christians so committed to living such a radical lifestyle!

Thinking about that excitement now, its hard to believe that I was just like that newspaper editor, intrigued enough to make it front page news. Now it troubles me that it still is. When we made the decision to commit to this project in Denver it seemed like the most natural and obvious decision. We had an opportunity, a ticket, to get out of this "sort of Christianity" that has only left us confused and unmotivated, the sad thing is, why did we need such a special opportunity to return to a life with Christ that was intended all along?

"our eyes have caught a glimpse of the Promised Land, and it is so dazzling that we can no longer settle for what the empire has to offer" (46).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

our future plans

As many of you know, Beth and I have plans to move to Denver in the very near future. It has been a journey of dreaming and planning with friends from Eastern University. It has been difficult for us to tell friends and family exactly what we will be doing because we have yet to nail down specifics. What we do know is that we are all rallying around the idea of a New Monasticism, which began with Eastern Alumni: Shane Claiborne, Chris Haw, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and others. Beth and I were introduced to the idea of the New Monasticism when we started attending a church in Philadelphia and by connecting with people and groups while at Eastern.

What is this all about? A brief description from one of Wilson-Hartgrove's book describes this all quite easily:

"New Monasticism is a growing movement of committed Christians who are recovering the radical discipleship of monasticism and unearthing a fresh expression of Christianity in America. It’s not centered in a traditional monastery (many New Monastics are married with children) but instead its members live radically, settling in abandoned sections of society, committing to community, sharing incomes, serving the poor, and practicing spiritual disciplines."

As Beth and I made our way through our education at Eastern, we found our worldview changing. We began to see the world through the eyes of the poor and oppressed. We began to see history as written by the marginalized. As these things happened a new found potency in the gospel of Christ began to recharge and energize a faith in Christ that had begun to grow tired and disillusioned by our evangelical backgrounds. For the first time in a long time the words of Christ convicted and motivated us to make real and radical changes to our lifestyle.

It just so happened that we found others like us. It just so happened that models of a new life were being created only 13 miles away in Philadelphia (The Simple Way, The Camden House, etc.) and all of a sudden things were falling into place.

Good friends of ours, Brittany and Adam Baltimore-Beach came from a church community in Denver which got behind some of its congregants in purchasing two homes a block away from the Church. All of sudden things were falling into place.

Years later a group of 7-10 young, married, engaged, and single Christians committed to the idea of a New Monasticism, and decided to make a very real choice to live out a radical life of Christ following in Denver, CO. Beth and I are among them. We are very excited about where God is leading us, and we hope that you will continue to check back here for updates. We would love to hear your thoughts, and we would love to talk to you about all of this more in person sometime.

We love you all.

Mark and Beth

some links for you:
Claiborne's Book An Irresistible Revolution
Claibrone and Hawe's new book Jesus for President
Communality Blog