Mindy Braun

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I was first introduced to the Journey Center in Santa Rosa, CA in 2008 when I was seeking a way to serve my community. I was growing in my awareness of social justice issues and had a heart for prayer. I grew up in the Christian church and even felt called to become a missionary at an early age. I see now that I have always been wired for “being on a mission”. I am passionate, but I was also very legalistic. I was harshest towards myself, but it spilled over to others I’m afraid. My inner critic was loud and I could hardly imagine a God of grace and love. I wanted to do things right and to be good and help those around me. Yet, I would not describe this place of being with words like freedom, peace, or joy.

I was drawn to the Journey Center because I experienced the Spirit in a new way. I was able to serve others through prayer, but I was finding something for myself there also. I was hearing stories of a God that gently broke through into people’s lives and met them right where they were at. I experienced a different way of being and I loved being there. At this stage in my life I was a mom of young children and was not able to be there as much as I wanted. I remained on the prayer team and God continued to work more of His grace into my life.

As I write this, I am now 10 years further along in my journey and I have grown in my understanding of my inherent worthiness and value for just being made in the image of the Divine. It is not based on how well I do, but that I am worthy, I am enough, right this moment, as is. I was invited to be on the Journey Center Santa Rosa board and it was like coming home. I am still wired for “being on mission” and I am still passionate, but there is a deeper understanding of grace and acceptance….and yes, peace and freedom.

At the Journey Center, I have found deep community with people who are seeking to experience the Holy and to allow the Spirit to transform their lives. Through the contemplative practices, the Spirit has room to speak to my heart, and through community discernment, I have an outlet to respond. I am finding ways to express radical love and hospitality through racial unity groups, facilitating art journaling spiritual practices, and serving as bookkeeper/admin. The most precious part for me is to have experienced the welcome and sanctuary of true acceptance and belonging so that I am now a part of being that sanctuary for others.

Jan Richardson’s poem The Blessing Called Sanctuary describes this beautifully for me:

You hardly knew
how hungry you were
to be gathered in,
to receive the welcome
that invited you to enter
entirely—
nothing of you
found foreign or strange,
nothing of your life
that you were asked
to leave behind
or to carry in silence
or in shame.

Tentative steps
became settling in,
leaning into the blessing
that enfolded you,
taking your place
in the circle
that stunned you
with its unimagined grace.

You began to breathe again,
to move without fear,
to speak with abandon
the words you carried
in your bones,
that echoed in your being.

You learned to sing.

But the deal with this blessing
is that it will not leave you alone,
will not let you linger
in safety,
in stasis.

The time will come
when this blessing
will ask you to leave,
not because it has tired of you
but because it desires for you
to become the sanctuary
that you have found—
to speak your word
into the world,
to tell what you have heard
with your own ears,
seen with your own eyes,
known in your own heart:

that you are beloved,
precious child of God,
beautiful to behold,
and you are welcome
and more than welcome
here.

Jan Richardson from Circle of Grace