This ministry is a beautiful thing. It’s really a fulfilling and good thing to be a part of. When I started working on this project I had a pretty idealized view of the community that would be created. I thought it would be pretty much just this beautiful and joyous and happy community with lives perpetually being radically changed, and all would be right in the world. I basically forgot that I was a part of it, and I’m pretty messed up myself. I also forgot that other people are a part of this community, and they are also messed up. And any time a whole bunch of people are in community, a whole bunch of messed up things happen, because, like I said, we’re messed up.
Here is the cool part–a perfect, joyous, happy, everything is fine community isn’t actually community. True community happens when everybody is aware they are messed up, and it’s okay. When the value of people, as proclaimed by Jesus, is the chief principle of a community, people know they are loved. People in such a community are free to take risks, free to admit when they are struggling with something, free to be held accountable, free to apologize, free to make mistakes, free to grow. Freedom is attained in community when each individual’s value is never in question, and each individual is encouraged to figure out who they are supposed to be! This is the type of community we seek to be at Purple Door Coffee.
We seek to not be about fixing; we’re not even fully about helping. We’re definitely not about making everything perfect, because we can’t. We want to be about compassion. Father Gregory Boyle describes, most aptly, how to be truly compassionate:
“The measure of our compassion lies not in our service of those on the margins but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them–in mutuality.”
If we have a top down approach to serving those on the margins, we’re missing the point, and making true community impossible. We must be able to recognize that we’re no better than those on the margins, and make the conscious effort to enter into life with them. That is when compassion and community take shape.
Those on the margins have been told their whole lives that they are “no good” or “not worth it”. Our friends that find themselves hanging out in downtown Denver a lot of times think they don’t matter, and that the businessman that works in the building they’re leaning against is more valuable than they are–that his life matters, and theirs does not.
I think our employees are beginning to see that they matter. They are beginning to see that they count. This doesn’t happen over night. Just because our employees are in a much better place than they were a year ago, doesn’t mean that the lies they have been told their whole lives are out of the their minds. At Purple Door Coffee we are about standing against the lie that there are some lives that matter more or less than other lives. We want to build a community that is founded on the principle that ever person has unsurpassable value.
Jesus prayer for us was that we would be one. Sadly, in our world that “we” is typically reserved for a certain group of people. For those that are like us. We can certainly be one with those that hold the same values, enjoy the same hobbies, speak in a similar way. Certainly Jesus didn’t mean everyone be one, right? Or did he?
How is that possible? What does that look like? Why is it important?
It’s possible because of Jesus, and Jesus alone. It looks like a lot of things, but mostly it looks like loving people because they’re people (which is really hard). It’s important because when we actually live into the oneness that Jesus calls us to, every person has a place. Every person sees their worth, and their value. And when that happens–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control can not only exist, but thrive.
In the oneness of Christ every person makes mistakes, hurts people, acts like a jerk, makes people laugh, helps someone else, learns a new skill, makes a fool of themselves, doesn’t get along perfectly with everyone; and that’s the beauty of it all. In the oneness that Christ calls us to all these things happen, but never once is someone’s value in question. Never once does someone have to fight to prove what they are worth.
At Purple Door Coffee we hope that everyone sees that their value is never in question. Every person is valuable, and worthy of love.