Crossing Over Podcast


If you are a faithful reader of this blog then you probably know that I am a pretty big fan of podcasts. There is something about listening to a 1 hour conversation with your favorite author and realizing that this less polished platform has shown you more than you have been able to see from reading several of her books.

This appreciation built up over time into a desire to launch my own Podcast.

Crossing Over is a podcast dedicated to exploring the Human Journey.

That’s how I start all my episodes. But what exactly does it mean? Why did I choose those words over any others?

Let’s start with the Human Journey. To engage with this term, I feel I should break down the 3 distinct ways that I have held belief. I am focused on the HOW rather than the WHAT.

Up to the second half of Highschool the way I held my beliefs is best captured with the label, “Without Conviction”. I was a sponge. I believed pretty much everything I was taught, even if it contradicted what I had believed the day before. If we think about the journey of belief as “The Box”, I had lots of pieces, but had not yet begun the process of putting that box together.

Through the second half of Highschool, college, and a few years after, I held my beliefs in a way that is best captured with the label, “With Stubborn Conviction”. That’s right. The pendulum had swung from one extreme to another. That box was built, and it was reinforced with steel.

After my wife and I moved to Denver I had an amazing and disorienting experience that brought to light all my fears that came from the second way of holding belief. I felt as if I lost my identity. I was no longer a part of the tribe that had felt like home for so long. This gave way to a new way of holding belief. It had to. After this experience, the way I held my beliefs is best captured with the label, “With Deep Conviction, and Sincere Humility”. 

I had no interest in becoming a sponge. But my experience of deep disorientation made it impossible for me to reinforce that box with steel once again. So I moved forward with conviction. I believe what I believe. I do not feel wishy-washy. But I also know that I could have life experiences, awakenings, disorientation, etc. that will totally shake it all up again. So I find enough courage to hold my beliefs firmly, while remembering how terribly wrong they could be.

This third way of holding belief led me to the term “Human Journey”. Unlike the second way, it causes me to stand with a posture of listening–even if I stand facing someone I disagree with on nearly everything. It has caused me to see that we are not on individual islands, but are instead journeying together as one species, on one planet, breathing air and receiving life from the One through whom everything was born. Said plainly, we are all in this together. So I want my podcast to be the kind of thing that we can all gain inspiration, challenge, and encouragement from, regardless of what labels we carry around day to day.

So what about the name? Crossing Over is a loaded term. As a Christian person, I understand that my tradition builds itself upon the foundation laid by another tradition–Judaism. In the Bible the word used to refer to God’s People (in terms of ethnicity) is Hebrew. One of the ways that word can be defined is, “One Who Crosses Over”.

Standing at the foundation of my religious tradition is this term pointing to a disorienting journey. This feels significant.

I am no longer very interested in drawing lines in the sand. I still do it often, but I am less and less wanting to do it. Instead I am interested in studying, communicating, relating, etc. in ways that are truly helpful to all of us on this journey of life. I am looking for something universal–as in something meaningful and helpful to everyone regardless of belief, ethnicity, race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.

That’s what I’m exploring. I’m digging into the stories of my friends in order to uncover this common thread of human unity–the experience of Crossing Over.

This is a literal experience. This moment is known/familiar, but I will (repeatedly) be crossing over into a moment that is entirely unknown/unfamiliar.

It is also symbolic. We cross over into new realities. We get married. We get divorced. We have children. We lose children. We fall in love. We experience deep heart-break. We get jobs. We lose jobs. We feel secure in our beliefs. Everything we believe falls to pieces. It is truly an unavoidable reality along the human journey. It is universal.

I hope you’ll listen. Below are helpful links to help you subscribe. Go in peace.

Visit the Crossing Over Website

Subscribe to Crossing Over on iTunes

Subscribe to Crossing Over on Google Play

“Like” Crossing Over on Facebook

Poop, Contemplation, and Pulling My Hair Out


“Poop! HaHa! Poop! HaHa!” Carly was most definitely amusing herself as she lay on the floor repeating that word—erupting into laughter. A few of the kids weren’t able to contain themselves and began laughing along. Others were angry and started yelling at her to shut up. My volunteers just looked at me like deer in the head lights. And I just shrugged my shoulders, which in this case meant “Somebody please fire me”, which might have been a distinct possibility since my boss was observing Kids Club that night.

Despite how stressful it was, this scene makes me smile today. Carly is autistic and her presence in Kids Club has been difficult at times. But her presence also firmly placed a magnifying glass over our program and revealed the obvious need to slow things down a bit. Kids Club has always been chaotic—complete with running, yelling, cartwheels, flying kickballs, and no shortage of crying. Carly’s reactions became the catalyst we needed to say, “Something has to change.” She taught me a great deal about how to structure Kids Club, and she even joined a chorus of others—mostly my wife and a couple of books—in teaching me the importance of slowing things down externally for the benefit of our centeredness internally. In short, Carly became a sort of Spiritual Director for me.

Perhaps Carly’s influence on Kids Club has a significance for those of us pursuing a contemplative spirituality in the West.  Our culture is one of over indulgence, over entertainment, and over stimulation. All of these things form a loud static through which hearing the deepest rhythms of God in the Universe becomes nearly impossible. Carly began to do better in Kids Club when we reduced the level of intensity of our games, simplified our schedule, and offered the kids more predictability. My family began to feel the fog lift at home when we reduced the amount of stuff we had, created an intentional family rhythm, and sought a deeper connection to the natural world by getting our beloved hens.

My initial reaction to this wisdom was similar to that of the kids at Joshua Station. I panicked. I couldn’t imagine my life without the noise that had become so normal. I am grateful that panic eventually gave way to a sense of simply trusting the process that was unfolding. It’s a process that helped Carly stay engaged at Kids Club and it’s a process that allows me to hear more of that deep rhythm in the universe as well as within myself. It is a rhythm seldom heard in our culture, but it is nothing short of transformational.


This post is the most recent 8th & Wyandot reflection. To find it, as well as the entire 8th & Wyandot archive, Click Here.

8th & Wyandot: Be Fruitful & Multiply


“What gives you life?” I am pretty new to this whole ‘be a chaplain to the youth’ thing, but that seemed like an important question to ask. “I write.” The answer was simple and yet took me completely by surprise. Becky has been a part of the Joshua Station community off and on for the past 7 years. During that time she had developed a reputation for literally falling asleep when I would start up a conversation in Teen Group that required any level of depth. I imagined her watching netflix. I imagined her taking multiple naps after school. But writing? Nope, didn’t see that one coming.

Since this conversation I have encouraged Becky to keep writing and she has graciously allowed me into that sacred space of reading the fiction tales she likes to put together. I have occupied that sacred space with many youth over the years. Karen and her painting, Juan and his color pencil drawings that looked so crisp we suspected it was ink, Robert and Kimberly with their spoken word, Emery with her music. There seems to be an innate desire to do more than just absorb. There seems to be an innate desire to create. To create something—anything that feels like it could cause a ripple in the world around us.

Our community recognizes that God invites us into the ongoing act of Creation. For some of us that invitation leads us to have children. For others it leads us to plant trees or gardens. For others it beckons us to allow the beauty of our inner voice to come forth through song, poetry, dance, visual art, writing, and the list goes on and on.  All of these things are expressions of what it means to participate in that ongoing act of Creation.

Understanding that we have the power to create also comes with an awareness that what we create has the power to be thoughtless, harmful, needlessly offensive, unjust, and counter productive to God’s dream of Creation. We have the power to create societies where there are none among us lacking essentials and dignity, and we have the power to create societies where some have and others have not. We have the power to speak words that serve to inspire those around us, and we have the power to speak words that cut others off at the knees. We have the power to create goodness, joy, peace, and love, and we have the power to create horror, sadness, war, and hatred.

What I love about asking the youth the question I asked Becky is that the answer is rarely something that serves to create the negative world I’ve alluded to. When they listen to what’s stirring within themselves, what wells up is almost always full of goodness, joy, peace, and love. May they listen to that stirring—and may we follow suit.


This post is the most recent 8th & Wyandot reflection. To find it, as well as the entire 8th & Wyandot archive, Click Here.

Seeking Justice: Was That White Privilege?


Black Lives Matter has utterly transformed the way I see the world. Nearly two years of its presence in my life has caused me to evaluate things like gentrification and urban renewal like never before. Are these fancy words that thinly veil racism in my city? It’s almost like I traded in my rose colored glasses for a pair that shows the world in HD. But then there’s the ambiguity of it all. For example, I have become convinced that White Privilege is real, but I find it difficult to identify exactly where and when I have experienced it. This ambiguity has led many to deny its existence and others to call those who insist it’s real “Race Baiters”. Somewhere in the midst of it all is me, a 30 something white man trying real hard to wake up.

I remember a time a few years ago when I was incredibly “lucky” after being pulled over only 3 blocks from my old house on the West side of Denver in the Barnum neighborhood. “What’s the problem officer?” I respectfully asked. “You’re headlight’s out.” I began to worry. When I was a kid I was in the car when my mother got a “fix-it ticket” for a similar issue. Money was tight and I really didn’t want to have to pay a fine.

I was planning the speech in my head about how I would fix it first thing in the morning, so as to avoid a ticket. But before I could spit the words out, he asked me for my proof of insurance. I grabbed the card from the glove box and handed it to him. He took it from me and then said “This one’s expired.” Oh no! The new one is on my coffee table at home! I know exactly where it’s at! This just went from bad to worse! First I might get a fix-it ticket, and now I will have a fine for not having my proof of insurance on me.

That’s when the strangest thing happened. As I profusely apologized for leaving the other card at home, he disinterestedly waved his hand and said, “I’m not going to give you a ticket. Just go home.”

I remember going home thinking that I was lucky I got an officer who didn’t want to go through the trouble of writing a ticket. Still I found it strange that he just let me go when I couldn’t provide proof of insurance. I found it strange, but I decided not to question it. I chalked it up to luck and mostly forgot the story—until recently.

Barnum is a largely poor and Latino neighborhood. There are several gangs that claim the streets as their own. Gun shots were a fairly regular occurrence and we never doubted that lots of drugs and weapons made their way through the neighborhood daily. Also, my car wasn’t the nicest. It was a simple Dodge Stratus with a couple dents in it—and apparently a broken headlight. I can’t help but wonder if the officer expected to find someone else driving my car in my neighborhood. I also can’t help but wonder if he had hoped that a broken headlight might turn into a search and seizure, but dismissed the idea once he saw me in the driver’s seat.

Maybe it truly was just an officer who wanted to make sure I got the headlight fixed and had no interest in writing the ticket, no matter who was driving. But then, maybe my “luck” was really me benefiting from a broken system of assumptions that is heavily bent in my favor. Maybe.

8th & Wyandot: Care for the Widows, the Orphans, and the Grasshoppers Among You


The three boys—some of our biggest troublemakers—walked into the front office beaming with ear to ear smiles. They were more than eager to show us what was inside the jar with holes poked into the lid. Some of the girls ran screaming as they proudly displayed the grasshopper they had caught. They had named it and were already making plans for how they would care for it. This plan included avoiding their mothers, who they knew would make them set the little guy free.

Most children have a special fondness for animals. Kids will often ask their parents for puppies and kitties, while parents exhaust every excuse to avoid giving in. But there is something about the special bond many kids on the margins of society have with the animals they encounter. The love they have for them, and the tenderness with which they care for them, is noticeable.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus makes a statement that is rather disorienting and deeply mystical. He says that whatever you do to “one of the least of these” you do to Him. What a profoundly humbling thing to really think about! How have you treated Jesus today? I’m not sure I would like my own answer to that question.

Somehow this notion of caring for those who are weaker, for those who are either oppressed or their plight simply ignored, is not a difficult one for children—especially children who find themselves in places like Joshua Station. In fact their treatment of vulnerable creatures—like their grasshopper friend—often puts to shame their treatment of each other! Still, there is something welling up inside of these kids that we would do well to pay attention to.

May we feel that love and consciousness welling up inside of us that leads to the care for the “least of these” among us. May we love and care for them as we would Jesus Himself, because after all, we are.


This post is the most recent 8th & Wyandot reflection. To find it, as well as the entire 8th & Wyandot archive, Click Here.

Seeking Justice: For Profit Policing?


Black Lives Matter. With one short phrase I probably caused you to have some kind of emotional response. The truth is that our country will never be the same because of this phrase and the movement that it represents. I have spent the better part of 2 years trying to learn as much as I can from my friends and acquaintances who work for racial justice in Denver. What has this felt like for me? In the words of a friend of mine:

I’m standing at the fire hose with my dixie cup.

One of the phrases I caught in that dixie cup was, “For Profit Policing”. It caught my attention, but I wasn’t really aware of what it was pointing toward. I suppose that can be said of so much of what I’ve learned. As a white man, it catches my attention,but I have no experiential container to put it in, so it takes me a while–like over a year–to finally even begin to “get it”. About a month ago something clicked. I heard the phrase “For Profit Policing” and I immediately remembered my time as a sales person at a retail store on the 16th Street Mall in Denver.

I don’t claim to be the most noble person alive, but I think most of the people who know me would describe me as a “good person”. That’s important to say at the beginning of this story.

The store I worked at sold many things, but the biggest money maker for the company, and also for myself through sales commission, was cell phones–specifically cell phones that came with the activation of a 2 year contract. I went through the company training. I learned far more about sales tactics than helpful information about the phones I was trying to sell, to be honest. Then I was unleashed. I feel slimy even remembering the way I tried to convince my customers I knew what I was talking about. My ultimate aim was to manipulate them into believing that I was an expert and that they really wanted this phone. No, not the pre-paid one. That one’s bad. The contract phone is the way to go!

After a few weeks of trying to sell phones, largely unsuccessfully, I began to make some “helpful” observations. The people who were most likely businessmen and women, who appeared to be wealthier, and who seemed to be well educated, were very difficult to sell to. They were far more likely to ask questions that would stump me. They would easily catch on to my tactics and call me out on them. In short, they were far less likely to pull the trigger and give me that coveted commission.

On the other hand, those who seemed to be poor and less educated offered far less resistance. They seemed to actually buy into the ruse that I was the “cell phone expert”. They asked far fewer questions. They were often swept away by my sales tactics. In short, they were far more likely to sign that 2 year agreement.

My supervisors were happy with me. My paycheck made me happy. I kept doing it. I targeted the folks who I had discovered were far more likely to give me the sales numbers, all the while having to force down the suspicion that they might not completely understand what they were getting themselves into. I often suspected that they would eventually default on their bills and end up with terrible cancellation fees and most likely a decent hit to their credit score. Still, I did it anyway. In the system of my company, it was all about the numbers.

That’s the story that comes to mind today when I hear the phrase “For Profit Policing”. Did you know that police departments across the country are expected to bring in money? And it’s not usually a percentage of all fines, fees, and forfeitures. There is often a budgeted amount that they are expected to bring in. That’s right. Before the year even begins our police departments are given sales goals.

This reality was one of those “Ah, I see” moments for me. One of the primary complaints coming from poor and minority communities is the sheer number of times they get pulled over for painfully minor traffic violations. Things like a license plate that is improperly displayed, dice hanging from the rear view mirror, failure to signal a turn, etc. Philando Castile, who was shot and killed during one such stop, had been pulled over 49 times in 13 years–most of the time for minor violations, according to public record. Another complaint is how often those minor violations result in searches as the officer is suspecting the presence of drugs or weapons, violations that would result in hefty fines paid to the city or county.

Is it possible that vulnerable communities bear the largest part of this burden for the same reason that the most vulnerable people bore the largest part of my sales efforts? Are they perceived to be the least likely (or able) to resist–less likely to seek legal retribution?

One element of the phrase “For Profit Policing” stands out to me: It acknowledges that the individual officers aren’t necessarily the problem. The decision to expect police departments to be the one branch of public servant that brings in a revenue puts the officers in a difficult situation. If they resist the system that so often leads to the oppression of the most vulnerable, they could be seen as under performing in the same way that I would have been had I refused the “easy sale”. In this way it becomes clear that the well being of one truly is the well being of the other. We are not as disconnected as it often seems.

Black Lives Matter. If your immediate response is to shut down, resist the urge. Listen. It might feel overwhelming, but whatever you are able to catch in that dixie cup might just change everything.




8th & Wyandot: Loving the Vandal


The chaotic scene left behind by her was shocking. Nearly every car in the parking lot, much of the building, and lots of sidewalk space was covered in profanity creatively written with a few items from the condiment shelf at the grocery store. She hoped that nobody saw her, and expressed a deep amount of shame over the incident when she realized they had.

She is one of the most interesting kids I’ve gotten to know over the years at Joshua Station. She is—all at once—everyone’s favorite kid to hang out with, and everyone’s biggest pain. Being one of the first kids that I got to know, her story has brought Nicole and I lots of joy, sadness, anxiety, and excitement over the years. It is true for us that she is one of our biggest pains. It is also true for us that she is one of our favorites. In short, we truly love her.

There was a sense of certainty that she would be cast out. After all she had put us through, this surely had to be the last straw. Surely we would say, “We have given you so many chances to behave differently, and you just don’t seem to get it!” But what she was truly struggling to “get” was just how loved she really was. Of course, there would have to be consequences, but she would never be cast out. She seems to expect that someday our love for her will end and our wrath will take over. But that’s just not how it works. That’s just not who we are, and that’s just not who she is to us!

Her reluctance to believe how much we love her has placed a mirror in front of my face when it comes to my trust in God’s love. I find myself saying, “Surely God has reached the end of the rope. Surely I will be cast out this time.” And it’s as if God gently whispers back, “That’s just not who I am, and that’s just not who you are to me.

May we—along with our resident troublemaker—allow our defenses to drop and truly trust that God’s love is not conditional. We are not going to be cast out. That’s just not who God is, and that’s just not who we are to God.


This post is the most recent 8th & Wyandot reflection. To find it, as well as the entire 8th & Wyandot archive, Click Here.