Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day Five: The Way of the Servant

You know how there are those experiences in life that are so great you wish they would last forever? The Jesus Dojo is not one of them. Here on day five we are tired. Physically tired bu

t also emotionally and psychologically full. This week has been full of so many new experiences and challenging encounters that most of us are ready for a break.

To me this is a really a good thing. Too often these unusual experiences in Christian formation can be mistaken for the “real thing.” By this I mean that our time in San Francisco is not a sustainable way of life. We are living in a restored Victorian Mansion. We are having all our food purchased and cooked for us. We are spending our entire day with more than a dozen of the same people, most of whom we are not related to.

 This is a city where none of us has a legal residence.  To hold this experience up as “the way to is suppose to be all the time” would be silly. The Jesus Dojo is an intensified time of spiritual formation meant to change our regular life, not take the place of it.

To make that mistake (and so many do) can lead to all sorts of “crash diet” type spiritual practices, hopelessness and despair. This is why it seems so good to me that we’re ready to leave. We know it’s time to go. Our time in the Dojo is complete and it’s time to look for how we’ve been changed for our whole life lived.

But now you’ve got me preaching…;)

Our day began with silence and solitude in Alamo Square - which is where the “Full House” Victorians are located. (See pics). Needless to say, there was excitement. Following that we 

walked back to Page St. Center where we spent the day working to improve the facility. Following the path of Jesus as servant, we were pleased to be contributors to the Center one la

st time repainting tagged walls, re-framing broken doorjambs, and cleaning almost everything.

After spending the day at Page St. we came back home, cleaned up and took off for Baker Beach where we planned to build a bon-fire and close our week out with a beach party cook out. However, forces beyond our control (and lack of supplies) forced us to abandon that plan and come back to our place instead.

The results were awesome!

We re-framed the while night as a Victorian era dinner party with the whole group dressing in

 their finest available clothes. After “cocktails” in the front hall and supper in the dining room we retried to the parlor to share some of the poetry we’ve been writing all week and have dessert. It was a total blast and I hope to publish a few of the kid’s poems in the Branch. They were exceptional. You should ask someone you know from the trip to share theirs with you.

Tomorrow we will pack to leave, clean up the house and hopefully have some time for solitude before we head to the airport. Keep us in your prayers tomorrow and thanks for reading.

Peace and love,


Jesus Dojo Day 4: Jesus as Storyteller and Artist

Today we pushed into the discipline of art making and advocacy as a spiritual practice. 

Our day began with a directed trip to

 MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) calling us to reflect on what it means to make art and be creative like our Creator. Artists conceal and reveal in their craft. This same dynamic can be found in Jesus' parables. They tell you some things, but leave the

 hearers wanting more. Furthermore, this pattern of concealing and revealing goes toward answering some of life’s biggest questions (Who are we? Why are we here? What is the meaning of life?") The artists at MOMA answered these questions using everything from matching chocolate and soap sculptures to a signed toilet seat.

With our creative juices flowing we spent the afternoon working with a neighborhood advocacy campaign Reimagine launched called barrio libre. This campaign was developed to connect neighbors together and effect simple action to bring about positive change in the Mission. Our group participated in this campaign by distributing flyers, doing graffiti removal, picking up trash and making prayer flags. These simple acts really work toward

 making God’s dreams come true for the Mission.

The whole experience really stoked the fires of my imagination. How can I advocate for Kingdom change in my neighborhood. What are the opportunities? What are the barriers?

WE closed out the day by meeting with Seven, Reimagine's community gathering. ON this night one of the communities seven vows was explored (simplicity) through conversation about local eating mixed with bread making, Bible study and gardening. It was all right up our alley.

Ok, I have nothing left and I'm going to bed.

Tomorrow is our last day, keep praying!



Monday, June 9, 2008

Day Three: Being Hosted By the Homeless

Today was great. We spent 2 hours in silence and solitude in Golden Gate State Park. There we learned prayer and practiced the way of Jesus as mystic. Following this, we walked (oh the walking) down to the lower Haight neighborhood and volunteered at the Page St. Center.

The Page St. Center is a food distribution hub for San Francisco's food bank. However, what makes the center unique is that it is run by the homeless for the homeless. To received groceries and/or a meal at Page St. you have to chip in. So, we sorted food, swept floors, moved furniture and took out the trash all under the direction of the city's homeless. This dynamic subverts the notion that Page St. Center is a place for "hand outs". Here there are no hand outs and as a result those living on the streets are given something much more, their dignity.

Because of all this, we were called guests at meal time and even went first in line to get our food. Now I don't know about you, but being the guest of the homeless is really something else. Talk about the great reversals of the kingdom of God!

Our time at Page St. taught us two other things as well: Several of the folks there were transgendered (and homeless because they were exiled from family because of it) and it was beautiful to see our group take a posture of learning and friendship with these folks- even though many had never met a transgendered individual before. Instead of fear we learned about offering friendship. Secondly, the complications of homeless challenged us as we saw the many distinctions within the neighborhoods homeless population (working poor, homeless by choice, homeless by exile from family, etc.) I can say I learned a lot as my categories were stretched today and my boxes shattered.

Ok, that's all.
I'll add in some pictures tomorrow.

Peace indeed,


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day Two: Walking and Justice

Today we walked. And walked. And walked.
I feel like we covered the city from East to West on foot today and it was amazing. We gathered on top of Bernal Hill, a peak over looking the city, for a conversation about the kingdom of God and Jesus’ invitation to join God in setting the world to rights.We walked through the Mission, Castro and Tenderloin districts ducking into the shops while confronting some beautiful and depraved examples of humanity. We prayed prayers like, “Creator, help me to think your thoughts and feel your feelings about this place and these people.” “God, show me where you are already at work bringing redemption here. From the murals to the caf├ęs it was not hard to see where our God was busy.

However, the part of the day that impacted us most was our conversation about human trafficking. Discussing the way of Jesus and justice, we talked about the despicable reality of modern day slavery then struck out to see (and pray for) the places this slavery was happening in San Francisco. 
With our eyes open we had frank and honest conversation tonight about where this same slavery s happening in Nashville and what we can do to abolish it. Expect to hear more about
 how St. B’s can get involved when we return!

I’ll leave you with a reflection from Julia Carruthers-Thorne:

“We were faced with some pretty harsh realities today, but in some ways those things were beautiful simply because we saw truth. We saw reality. A lot of that truth, though, was hard to process. As people trying to walk in the way of Jesus, we don’t want that truth to always be the way things are. Sometimes words were not even enough to pray the kind of change we want to see in our world but more specifically in the city we are in this week.”


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Day One: The Whirlwind

I don't know whose idea this blog was, but it's 11:37 Nashville time and I'm just now sitting down to write something about our day.
We met at the Nashville airport at 5:45 central time by 1:45 Pacific we were on the BART headed downtown. Our time today was spent getting oriented to the Dojo. Here are a few highlights:

** Eating at the best French-Vietnamese restaurant in the country (Tulan) and having some of the other patrons buy our group of 20 dinner. This was especially impressive because it happened after after a conversation where we discussed what we were doing in town. We told them we were here exploring the connections between spirituality, justice and the arts and they were taken by our quest. So taken in fact that they bought us dinner.

You see in a town like San Francisco, spirituality is very popular. People are open and excited about authentic quests that attempt to connect the dots between spirituality and all of our lives. Everything is connected and everything matters. Because this notion is central to Jesus' claims about the good news of the kingdom of God, we felt right at home. However, because San Francisco is a post-Christian kind of town (meaning the forms of institutional and organized church life are not experenced as relevant or helpful) this sort of holistic gospel idea is not one people find in Christianity. We'd like to learn to live in a way that makes the connections obvious again. To that end, there is no better city in the world to encounter in the Jesus Dojo. (If you want to know why we're not talking about it as a mission trip ask me later;)

** After a trip through China town, we sat in Washington Square and unpacked our experience further in the resturant and talked about following Jesus as rabbi.

** Jeffery saw breakdancers today associted with D.A.R.E. He liked it.

** Went to Fishermen's Wharf to see the tourist side of the city. 

** Going to bed after a long day.

Friday, June 6, 2008


A welcome and orientation from Dixon.