Church of the Open Road has been years in the making. Our more than twenty years together have been solid and without reservation, never a straight line and always an adventure. When someone asks us, "What qualifies you to start a church?” our simple answer is, we have been studying our whole lives for this.
Almost two decades ago we started our family and spent most of our lives doing exactly what you are suppose to do after finishing school: get a job, get a dog, buy a house, get married, work hard and have babies. Our life on paper was what was expected. After the birth of our second son, we sat down after a long day at work and looked at each other and said, "When we wake up in 30 years, are we going to be satisfied having lived this life?" The answer for both of us was a resounding "no."
Coloring Outside the Lines
We took this as an opportunity to reimagine our lives. We sat down after the kids were in bed and asked ourselves a lot of tough and exciting questions:
- What is most important to us?
- What do we value?
- What kind of community do we want to live in and raise our children in?
- How do we build a life we do not need a vacation from?
- What is the minimum amount of money we need to get by?
- How do we make a living?
After a lot of soul searching, we sold our home, quit our corporate jobs, and moved our family to a small ski town deep in the Rocky Mountains: Crested Butte, Colorado. We landed in Crested Butte with each other, way too much stuff and a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., "Take the first step in faith. You do not need to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step." Our friends, families and colleagues thought we had lost our minds; we knew we had finally found them. We were starting a new life, one that we could live and not just pay for, one where we could be present, and one that would bring inspiration and clarity.
The Student Becomes the Teacher
How would we we make a living? I had always wanted to teach and lucked into a full-time teaching position at the local university. I have spent the last decade educating and mentoring college students. I get paid to learn and inspire. I have never worked harder in my life, but I get to spend the summers exploring with our boys, and I have a job that keeps me young.
Where Is Your Church?
At different times for different reasons, we all evaluate our purpose, the meaning of life and our spirituality. Mike and I have always valued spirituality, but without the tether to a particular religion. Mike grew up going to a Methodist church and Catholic school. My parents were raised Catholic but did not practice as adults. While Mike was raised in a particular faith, he does not practice his faith formally. On the other hand, I have always struggled with the pressure to define or justify my beliefs. After years of searching for spirituality and religion without politics, the concept of Church of the Open Road emerged.
We created a community that welcomes all faiths and does not measure our devotion or salvation by the number of times we sit in a physical church. Our church is everywhere; it is the place where we find peace and clarity. For some it may be on a mountaintop, for others it may be at the beach or perhaps on a park bench. Our place of worship can be anywhere. What inspires us one day may not inspire us the next. The Church of the Open Road values nature, adventures, spirituality, community, and personal growth.