I can’t help but smile when I see the remnant of luggage decorating the spaces in our building.

It is a reminder of the history that inhabits these walls. And before the luggage factory, back when the Puget waters met the western wall, a fisherman’s wharf greeted the day’s catch with open arms. This is the building that now bears our name – The Seattle School.

I smile because the allegory of a former fisherman’s wharf/luggage factory now housing grad students is not lost on me.  Just like a fisherman casting his nets into the Pacific, we dive into the depths of the soul to see what can be brought to the surface.  And just like a luggage maker filling his space with suitcases, we fill the building with the baggage of our hearts.

We are a group of artists, nomads, farmers, fishers of men, orphans, wanderers, prophets, & gypsies that are desperately seeking to reek of healing of grace.  Our pasts chased us into this building, and I’m hoping for a future that will one-day chase us out.

This building is not an easy building to be in. It’s not normal for people to openly tote around so much baggage – let alone talk about it in a room full of aspiring therapists and pastors. We talk about meeting. We find it difficult to be in this building and hold the tension of also being out in the world, let alone finding community elsewhere. For now, we learn to be here, how can we be elsewhere too?

Mainly for it not to be called church, we named it Exhale. We sought just that. We needed a space to breathe – find rest in the midst of our work. Exhale has become my community to hold my past baggage of church & community. I never envisioned Exhale to become for me what it has – a hope, a symbol for how to live out a new way of being in community with others. To be a fisher of men and provide space to hold another’s luggage, this building reflects incarnation.

We meet bi-monthly and take turns sharing. We prepare songs to sing together. We set up microphones, chords, and a projector. We relive the times we’ve done this – set up chords, fix the sound, and set up seating. We laugh, share how much transference we have to these things, and make up a phantasmal Transference Team, just like our past churches had ushers, greeters, and praise teams. We call on this team often!

The past and the future, both welcomed to inhabit the space, as much as we can bear to share in our present. We exhale, breathe from our lungs, “we are here, I need you, be with me, can I be with you”, as chests expand and collapse. We share our stories, talk about communities we’ve failed and been failed by. We break bread, pour Welch’s juice, but communion began long before with the 6 o’clock chimes that mark our beginning. My community is a space that I can breathe with others who know of the shortness of breath we’ve come to remedy. The same aspirations we will one day go out into the world to aid.