The idea for Tau came to me at one of the lowest seasons of my life, March of 2021. After years of loss in my vocation as a church planter and pastor in Brooklyn, things suddenly got much worse due to the global pandemic. What followed was a year of unspeakable loss, conducting virtual funerals and services, watching my city empty and my community move away, witnessing increased hatred and polarization, suffering as many of my fellow friends and colleagues in ministry resigned, and mourning as family members died.
After a year of living through this anti-Shalom, my family was granted a month’s leave last Winter and we followed in my dad’s footsteps decades ago and went to a sparsely populated archipelago in the Caribbean off of Panama. It was a life-changing experience for us. A frequent fellow-retreatant and pastor friend of mine joined us along with his family for the final week and we guided them through our new discovery. We tasted of shalom together – wild creation we had to submit to, hugs and play with others for the first time in a year, rhythms of rest, play, discovery, and gratitude; we connected, we prayed, we ate, we were blessed by indigenous individuals and communities – and we came home with a deep appetite for more shalom. We had been transformed by our experience of well-being with self, others, and the world.
On the third day after our return to NYC, I was on a walk and began having a panic attack: I could feel the vertigo that bent the buildings over and onto me, the cortisol pumping through my veins, the unreal noise in my ears. I sprinted to the pier in Brooklyn Bridge Park as fast as I could, looked out over the East River with its wild currents gasping for breath, and the dream came to me then as a sudden series of visions: the Tau symbol, clergy renewal, creation care, play, off-grid eco-retreats, contemplation, simplicity, renewal, healing for an age of illness.