How the other half pray

On Friday, we packed up the family and headed north on the PCH to Malibu. Doug had a group of DMin students at a retreat center there, and he needed to meet with them one last time before they left. In spite of a lot of traffic it was a beautiful drive, and it was a delight to meet this group of students. They had of course known of the events in our family these past weeks, and they were generous with prayers and kindnesses.

It was also my first real taste of life with three: we came into the classroom with Aaron and Elijah in the stroller and Mercy on foot. Within minutes of Doug standing up front and starting to speak, Elijah demanded a feeding, Mercy spilled most of a large bag of pretzels on the floor and Aaron started throwing his body forward as hard as he could demanding to be let out of the double stroller. I realized how challenging any public outing or appearance really will be from this point on.

After Doug was done, we had a chance to walk around a bit at the retreat center. Perched above the Malibu coastline, the property boasts exquisite views. The monastery is surrounded by luxury homes scattered across the hillsides below. We parked our van in a spot looking down on Mel Gibson’s house. His home seemed almost modest compared to some of the other compounds visible from the property, and it felt a bit ironic to be surrounded by statues of St. Francis (it is a Franciscan monastery), one who renounced material possessions.

The other thing that struck me was the people we saw on the grounds of the retreat center. Every person I saw was hip and beautiful. Lots of black, big sunglasses, jewelry, expensive shoes and handbags, and tattoos. Now, I have done spiritual retreats before. When I lived in Chicago there was this little Catholic retreat center I used to visit, and while I wouldn’t say that the people I would see there were homely, it was a far cry from this. L.A. is such an image place, and I sometimes forget that living where I live. So it was striking for me to see the beautiful people engaging God in this place.


  1. Did some regional leadership retreats there in my So Cal IV days.

    Glad for a monastic presence in Malibu.

    Spiritual searchers used to contemplate skulls and scriptures.

    No reason why seekers now shouldn’t do the same with sailboats and sixteen thousand square foot mansions.

    Lots of ways to see the vanity of it.

    Even through Vera Wang sunglasses :^)

  2. The majority of the folks you saw were there as part of a recovery group. There’s a group that meets around noonish nearly every day there. Ironic.

    It was great to see the whole Haub family!

  3. when we lived in Hollywood, we would occasionally go to the Hollywood Bible Study in Beverly Hills (since my husband was in “the industry”) – led by Tim Storey and attending by a veritable who’s who of the industry. Watching soap stars and movie actors and actresses lift their hands in worship and lay hands on one another during prayer times was absolutely surreal…and beautiful…but mostly surreal hehe.

    I miss that world sometimes actually – I’m not sure why but I guess I sort of developed an affinity for the people in that culture.

  4. Thanks John–it was great to see you as well! It is amazing to consider how that entire area is absolutely ravaged by fire, just days after we were all there.

    I can totally see how the people I saw there might be members of a recovery group. That’s great that the space is being used to bless them in that journey!

  5. Makeesha,

    Nice to have you commenting here!

    I live so removed from the parts of the industry you describe, and I confess I forget that they are real people who live and love God like the rest of us!

    We do have lots of friends here whose lives intersect with that community, and I do enjoy hearing their stories!

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