Arjan was a beloved friend, beloved because he was a mirror into my own soul. He and I spent many hours flying our paragliders over the Santa Rita Mountains, watching the sun sink behind Baboquivari, Elephant Head burning orange in the alpenglow, the clouds changing colors, pastels on LSD.
One day Narcissus wakes up by the lakeside and discovers that his reflection is gone, and realizes that someday he is going to die. In that moment, my privileged white man’s life of comfort and security was suddenly empty and meaningless, and all the time and effort I had put into it was folly. What I had believed to be virtuous, collapsed like a house of cards. I no longer knew who I was, what I wanted, or what was meaningful, and the corporate institutions of our culture, including most churches, did not have satisfactory answers.
Grace brought me to Dr. Dan Behling who showed me that life is not success and constant ascension as our culture would have you believe, but a cyclical process of death and resurrection. My childhood experience of God-Jesus-Religion-Church left me with no desire to ever set foot inside a church again, but Dan challenged me. He sent me to Jeanette Renouf’s 9 o’clock class of heretics where I listened to people like Tom Lindell speak about risking everything, loving recklessly and living with abandon. And then Susan Anderson Smith challenged me to get involved with the 20’s/30’s Network. And then I volunteered to be a youth leader. And then I started giving money to the church. And I then got involved with the Men’s Spirituality Group. Now, it seems, my life revolves around St. Philip’s.
And what is it about St. Philip’s that keeps me coming back?
First of all, there are very wise people here who nurture me, for no reason other than their abundant capacity to love. Secondly, as Arjan was a mirror for me, I have found many mirrors here at St. Philip’s, and their reflections show me parts of my soul I didn’t even know I had. And finally, Jesus talked about living simultaneously in Caesar’s world and God’s world. For me, St. Philip’s is an oasis in Caesar’s desert.