A Barefoot Tribe
Hello, Barefoot Soul!
No one can walk our journeys for us, yet we never walk alone.
Along my journey, I have been fortunate to connect with amazing people, finding more of my barefoot tribe. Artists, intuitives, empaths, healers, musicians, cultural creatives. People who live with purpose and passion, whimsy and joy, love and acceptance. Many of us have had to give up communities or ways of being to keep moving forward. We may even have had to lose faith. I have needed to lose Jesus, and find him again, neither being the same. You know when you go back to a river you’ve been to before? Neither you or the river are the same. Same goes for us on our journey.
When I lost Jesus, I wasn’t on the road; I was in the Temple. I was in the Church. I was debating with the scribes and the teachers of the law. I may have even turned a few tables. Like the Jesus of the Gospels, my desire was to heal and bring in, and I could not shake the hold of the established order. Jesus was no longer in the songs about him. Jesus was no longer in the communities that claimed his name. Jesus was no longer in the Church. My Christ was Cosmic, a reflection of my belief in the nature of the divine. I no longer saw a Jesus who left and was coming back, I only had the Jesus who had always been. I no longer had a Jesus of the Jews, a Jesus of history, a Jesus who was God-and-man; I saw a firm distinction between the two and couldn’t own either. At some level, however, deep within, I still believed I was in and with God. Maybe I couldn’t call that Presence Jesus, or maybe I could. Hell, I still vacillate. I would follow the Way of Jesus to the best of my ability--it still captivated my imagination--and I would do it without the Jesus others saw themselves following.
Was I doing what many friends and family in Evangelical circles claimed I was doing? Making God in my own image? Or had that been done already? I couldn’t go back either way. While friends and family within the walls of the Church defended their identities, their practices, their rites, their beliefs and ideologies, I broke down and broke mine. The disintegration of my faith coincided with the disintegration of my person. They were, in fact, joined. I understood why others couldn’t question, it was a kind of shedding of skin, but it felt like dying. At worst, I convulsed in resistance to this process and built up walls of cynicism and hurt. At best, I held my heart open in love to myself and others while my bedrocks of belief were broken.
For both individuals and communities, beliefs are closely associated markers of identity.
Our world is both broken and beautiful. This, the Christian narrative captures perfectly. The stories, the symbols, they still ring with power in my soul, drawing me to reverence for all that is. What they have lost is their historicity, their certainty, their literality, their exclusivity.
For most of my life, I have so wanted to follow Jesus and to be Jesus. THIS was why, when I encountered hate or self-deception, it had to be brought out. It had nothing to do with the Jesus I knew. When I saw how my faith was hurting myself and hurting others, it was in pursuit of Jesus that I opened myself up to something more. I studied nonviolent resistance and peacemaking because of the Jesus I saw. I changed my mind on marriage (to be in support of equality), moved from a “conversion-mentality” of evangelism to actually building relationships with people because of this Jesus. My heart, my ethos still exists, but that Jesus doesn’t exist for me anymore.
I no longer have a singular Jesus. I no longer have a rock-solid faith. All my anchors are in the sea, my tangled roots lifted from the pot I grew in. I have less, and I have more. I have a vision for the many Jesus’s that exist, for the many communities that exist, for the complex conversations of faith and religion. I have an open ear for scholarship, an open mind to learn, and all the while, an open heart with deep belief and implicit trust. This is the barefoot way of being.
What persists of Jesus (and of faith more generally) for me is less about what specifically is believed, and more about how that is made manifest. I see a Jesus and an early Christian community inviting me into ways of being that still captivate me, even as navigating Christian waters feels more like foreign territory. The courage to stand up to the establishment and even die for one’s convictions. Creating healing and human thriving that is accessible to all. Being with people as people, not as members of a certain class, which will invariably bring us to see people on the margins that have been discarded. Living with passion, with a lightness of being, with zeal and intensity that is tempered by love. Richly connected to Spirit, lovingly living with others, and being a space of transformative relationships with God/self/other. I see a Christ inviting us all to the table, holding space for each and every being in the Universe. We are one human family in a diverse and ageless cosmos, intrinsically one yet not beneath a banner or name and able to be so only in plurality.
I lost Jesus, and I found the Way of Jesus. I lost my shoes, and I found a barefoot way to be. I have lost community and found authentic connection. Maybe all of these aren’t mutually exclusive, yet the distinctions have been important for my journey.
Now, one of my greatest joys comes in finding more barefoot souls. People living at the margins of faith yet with deep belief. People who are senstive, strong, and who don't fit neatly in boxes.
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I find the barefoot souls, we find each other.
We are all kin, sister and brother.
Never alone yet not fully together,
The question we’re teasing out is whether
We can hold space for a kingdom to come.
Not out of the sky, not from a guy on a horse,
But from within.
Not a clear utopia with one distinct vision,
Not one organization with one proclaimed mission,
The telos of love must be reached by our praxis
The same guiding force keeping the Earth on it’s axis
Where we take off our shoes and step into the sand
get out of our ass-heads and into the land
Find one another, join hand in hand, and
Listen while we work.
Life is chaotic, life is confusing.
We’ll take a beating, we’ll take a bruising.
Our power lies not in what happens, but our choosing
To remain and grow in love.
Tender, soft, vulnerable
Strong too, unignorable
Alive. Present. Free.
Fully you, fully me, fully we.
This is the Barefoot Way to Be.
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As I continue to tease out these ways of being in book form and continue my search for the barefoot souls and soles, there are three ways you can help:
- Engage: Your feedback matters! Not only does it help give me a sense of what's working and what isn't, it helps expand the conversation. In my blog, book and other work, I'm wanting to bring more and more of the inspirational work and insight from others! I LOVE hearing what moves, challenges and inspires you!
- Share: What resonates with you can help others on their journey! Whether it's sending a link, telling a friend, or processing your own journey with others, expand the conversation with connections that matter! :)
- Support: Becoming a patron not only helps make my work possible, it helps me make it accessible to others. If what I do resonates with and inspires you, please consider supporting my blog on Patreon!
You're already seated at the table. You show up with authenticity, courage and love in all you do. Thank you, friend, for your support and for BEING YOU!
I'm honored to walk this journey with you.
With barefoot love,