The Woman at the Well…
See that girl with dark hair? See her daze, her semi-real, but more-than-likely people pleasing smile and vacant stare? Yep. That’s me. That is just about the moment I think I said…
Done with almost all of it. I had a lucrative (but not very socially acceptable) source of income that involved altered consciousness, a tarot deck that I interpreted using my youth group Bible. But something stuck… I couldn’t jettison it all. There were still sacred spaces and moments I couldn’t deny. I had my own “Pennies” I was tracking. I was 19. Survivor of some pretty drastic trauma and spiritual abuse. Wanted nothing to do with the church. Zip. Zero. But I couldn’t let go of God, Jesus, Holy Spirit.
And I was so damned thirsty all the time.
I needed the spiritual life. And so I created practices and moments and rhythms. At a certain point, I felt called deeply to the story of the Woman at the Well – exhausted, smacked down, shunned, but willing to do anything to get a drink. And then, through the transforming power of compassion and the Word of Life spoken into her, she’s released to bring a huge crowd back to the well to drink Living Water…
As I eventually found my way back into the church and even into the ordination process with a mainline denomination – I realized that I just couldn’t do it the way that the world expected pastors to do it.
I couldn’t do it the way it had always been done.
I was never gonna start a church, never gonna be that head pastor preaching on a Sunday giving guidance and morals for living. I mean, after all, I was such a hot mess, who was I to talk? I was being influenced by Grassroots Judaism, Islam, Wicca, Druidism, Yoga, Buddhism, Charismatic Christianity, and above all else…
I was caught up in the Flow of the Source.
Have you been there, too? Caught up in that pull and sway and current of a living, chaotic but SACRED mess?
I “pastored” others, but eventually started realizing that my “flock” (and I really don’t care for that word) were more the people that didn’t ever want to set foot in a church again. People who called me their “Drug Dealer-Youth Pastor” or who claimed they needed a “get out of jail free card” for the apocalypse, so could I make a call on my “red phone to God?” I realized that my prayers for my friends who wanted nothing to do with Church but loved me and who Jesus was in my life. – that they were powerful and effective.
And then, in the Jesus year (you know, 33, when he gets hung up on a tree?), two friends wrote something in a book that brought me to tears. Both atheists. Both along the same lines of…. I really don’t want much to do with church or God or any of that stuff, but when I’m with Katie, I don’t want those things not to exist, because they’re such an embedded part of who she is that I feel safe with her in those sacred spaces of her life. I wouldn’t want to know her any different or without those parts of her.
You see, I don’t want to be a pastor, shepherd, whatever, doing church the way things have always been done. And I’ll be frank… I don’t particularly care about the specifics of your lifestyle. I’m not going to nag at you to avoid or do certain things. You wanna sleep around, do drugs, sleep til noon… I honestly just can’t be bothered to catch myself up in stuff that is your responsibility.
You do you, Boo.
Most of the time I feel like it’s none of my business.
What *is* my business?
What I do care about?
What I always have cared about?
That you are having encounters with the Divine that are meaningful, soulful, heartfelt, and authentic. That you’re more worried about asking the right questions than in having the right answers. If you go on a mescaline trip and talk to Jesus, awesome. If you spend 4 hours in contemplative prayer and fasting and arrive at a place of zen? Fantastic. I care about creating safe, sacred space for you – to help you drink from your own well.
15 years ago, I came back to the church in a pursuit of the More that I could envision. Ten, I moved to Ireland. And in Ireland, I discovered all the spaciousness and breath and meaning I needed to rediscover what spirituality could look like when it was beautiful, sacramental, and alive. I let myself come alive. I began to understand my life mission:
Breathe life into people’s dreams and dreams into people’s lives.
So I started the work. I studied. Along the way, I picked up a Master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a Masters in Philosophy from the Irish School of Ecumenics – in ecumenical theology – basically the study of the household of God. I began to understand the expansive, spacious capacity of God for inviting ALL to the table.
And while I was there, I started dreaming. I’m married to a tech guy, you see, and I saw Facebook as potential from the very beginning. But Facebook wasn’t safe. It was handy to stay in touch, but for fostering deeper connection or conversation? Useless. But I began to dream of that place where I could gather my “flock,” my “peeps.” The people who called me when they needed a “red phone” to the Divine. I began dreaming of a place where I didn’t have to repeat the same conversation with 10 people, because instead we could have it together. Skype was still in its infancy, chat programs even more so. The iPhone didn’t exist yet. But my hubs… he saw a day when we could make it happen. You can see that cutie-pie’s amazing face next to mine in that other picture of me at the Irish burial mound. He’s building out your back-end, you see.
So we waited, and watched the internet set itself on fire and make itself sick by returning to its horrors like a dog to its vomit. And I tried to think of careful ways to curate online, just biding my time waiting.
Fastforward to March of 2017. I have a 3 year old daughter. I now have even more peeps even further flung around the globe. I’m back in the process of ordination, but have no idea what it will look like. I’m part of a church planting movement – but I have no desire to have a church on a Sunday. I love to equip, to encourage, to empower. But, heaven help me, I spend all my time running an online business with my husband. He’s been talking to me about some cool new tech that he’s all into. And a client – who’s also a friend (Hi Michelle, amazing vocal coach Rockstar!) contacts us in a flurry saying “I have a thing I’m doing and it’s chaos, but here’s the thing I need!” So we got to it, and didn’t really know what was going on other than she was building this online communal network of vocal coaches (Go SpeakEasy!). Then I spent a few months crying over the spiritual meaning of Moana – and that’s a whole little side thing that you can read about here…
A few months later, I send a text to a friend who’s going through a year that makes craptastic an actual word. I’d been praying for him and sent him a message something like “You’re really heavy on my mind and heart today. Holding space for you, lighting a candle, and praying.” He, as an incredible life coach, wrote back about the significance of that message with the final words, “Thank you for being the keeper of my well.”
And that was it, my friends. The thing I had been grasping towards, the vision I had been praying for.
At once, I began to get a vision for it, but over time, it deepened, and I saw not just a well, but rolling green hills, spaciousness and wildness, and a thousand wells – ancient cisterns – dispersed in the landscape. And knocked down and about were a thousand fences, blown over as if by a mighty wind. And I saw my friends, my peeps, and people I’d never met, starting to look about themselves as they stood by their wells, as if they were waking up from a magical slumber. I saw spiritual leader friends I had made, walking around with these massive toolkits, pulling various items to equip those people looking at their well. A rope here, a bucket there, a cup here. All things to help these people reconnect with their own source of living water. And I knew it was coming. I just didn’t know what.
This summer, I finally talked to Michelle about the SpeakEasy, and determined what exactly she had hacked together – and actually participated a bit as a “tech-translator.” While I visited that little nest of folk, I realized – the time is now. And she reminded me, “Done is better than perfect.” So I did a bit of research, talked with the super-techy hubs, and here we are.
I’m not sure where we are going… but I’m happy to invite you on this journey with me.
God’s welcome is so expansive, so life-giving, so messy, so inclusive. It’s the kind of welcome that has other people throwing parties on our behalf. So come along with me. Let me help you build bridges and let me be your soul-friend match-maker. Let me help you rediscover your own sacred spaciousness and depth and breadth of being.
Let me be a Keeper of your Well.
I shouldn’t be your only one, but chances are, if you’re here, I’ve already been serving you as one.
Let’s drink deeply together of some Living, Life-Giving Water.