Hi. I’m Mike.
It may have been awhile since we’ve connected, or this might be our very first time. I’m seeing a lot of fresh faces this season,* so it’s high time I re-introduce myself.
You see, I thought I had a ‘normal’ upbringing, ‘till friends from different backgrounds assured me it’s actually quite weird. But maybe you can relate…
I grew up in the God-haunted, Christ-obsessed Bible-belt of the American South, where religion is a way of life. From compulsory church attendance 2-3 times a week to being homeschooled as a way of training for the Good Lord’s service, the comprehensive culture of fundamentalism taught me that spiritual life was serious business.
Next I spent time in more experimental expressions of my native religion — I lived my 20s living in mystically-oriented, egalitarian, open and participatory house church communities, and got to travel the world visiting, encouraging, and being enriched by these spaces, planet-wide.
I also cruised cyberspace, mapping the rapidly-evolving terrain of emerging ways of thinking, feeling, and acting out faith and spiritual practice that some called the ‘emerging church.’
In my 30s, when I finally connected with long-lost biological family (I was adopted from birth in a best-case scenario that nonetheless left me with questions), I discovered my Turkish and Celtic roots. It turns out, my bio-fam were all relatively-recent immigrants to the United States! I took a ten-day pilgrimage to Turkey, exploring lands with ancient Muslim and Christian roots — including Konya, home of the Sufi poet-teacher Rumi, and Cappadocia, birthplace of Trinitarian spirituality.
But these journeys also raise questions. Namely:
“So what? How does this belief/practice/community actually help us live our lives? How does this really work?”
I noticed that this breadth of cultures, movements, and communities that I’ve spent time among — and the curiosity with which I approached the variety of religious experiences contained within them — have had a unique effect on me, one that feels different than that of many of my friends.
- Instead of converting from one path to the next, I converged.
- Instead of abrupt revolutions in my life, I experienced evolutions.
This hasn’t all been some abstract, quixotic quest for the next hit of bliss or ‘enlightenment,’ mind you.
Not to mention the everyday frictions and opportunities that come from being a partner, a lover, and a father.
Because of my particular aches and hungers, I became a practical mystic, seeing my entire life as an experiment:
- To grow in grounded optimism, risky love, and unmaking grace.
- To develop the capacities of my heart, mind, soul and strength — one day at a time.
- To relax into my humanity, stretch into the angelic, and choose the relationships, communities, and ecosystems where I can best serve and be witnessed.
So what do I try to do in this blog?
I discover what really works to transform my inner, outer, and social worlds, and share these open-handedly with you.
My path is still one of a friend of God along the Way of Jesus, though this looks pretty different than my childhood faith.
I also have a ton of respect for friends who have left expressions of this path (for any number of reasons), and of course those who are on other paths altogether.
We have many paths, many aims, and quite possibly many trajectories.
But I believe something we all share in common is that we want life to work, to be loving, fulfilling, and meaningful — and we want to leave our time on earth a little better than when we found it.
But we can be intentional about our path, whatever we choose, and actually make a difference.
If thoughtfulness, heart-fullness, embodiment and intentionality matter to you, I hope we’ll stay connected. If you don’t already get my ‘Opti-Mystic Meditations’ email newsletter, please do. It’s the best way to stay in touch, and I give away a bonus chapter of my book with Fr. Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation. You can find both right here.
Let’s see what we can discover, together.
Yours in Holy Weirdness…
*Where are all these fresh faces coming from? Many of you are arriving via the Library of God’s Dreams giveaway by Speakeasy and Homebrewed Christianity! We now have our two winners: Evan H. in Oregon and Kate K. in Washington! The prize packages are on their way to them, and we’ll re-share their full names + pics if they decide to share. If you didn’t win this time around, know that you can always receive complimentary progressive and contemplative Christianity / spirituality books for review by applying here. And if you’re a creator who would like your book, album, or film considered for the Speakeasy reviewing community, apply here!