By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
"I want you to visualize waking up tomorrow with a smile on your face as you get out of bed," she says calmly. "I want you to visualize the day going with ease and grace."
She pauses and opens her eyes.
"We at the Red Door are amazed and appreciative for your presence."
For DeFoort, a book on life coaching given her by a friend opened the door to a new life. In 2005, she became a certified coach through the Fearless Living Institute in Boulder. Since then, she estimates, she's counseled more than 220 people; she sees her role in their lives as a cross between a drill sergeant and a cheerleader.
DeFoort found her coaching work gratifying, and she'd gotten engaged to an IBM employee she'd found on eHarmony, but she still longed for the sense of community she'd once felt in church, then at the club. Noticing how beneficial her clients found counseling, she hired her own life coach, Sue Frederick, a luminary in the self-help world who taps into her psychic intuitive abilities.
"Right away she said, 'Eryn, you know you've always wanted to be a minister,'" DeFoort recalls. "I said, 'Yeah, but for what church? I've been in and out of so many seminaries and classes and I've never found anything that resonated because I'm so anti-institution.' She said to start my own church, and I just laughed. The last thing this world needs is another church. So she said to write a book. And that seemed like a good idea. I went away to my fiancé's place in Michigan and wrote for three months."
The book that resulted was Beyond the Aha! Moment, which focuses on moving beyond mental masturbation to effecting change in your life. (DeFoort is hoping to publish it with a small publishing house in the next six months.)
Her own aha! moment was her vision for the Red Door.
It would be a church without religion, driven by humility and understanding. "If there are 6.6 billion people on the planet, then there are at least 6.6 billion ways of communicating with the creator," DeFoort explains. To build her church, she drew from spiritual trains of thought that have been around since Thoreau and Emerson, and found modern inspiration in the New Thought Movement, represented in Denver by the Mile Hi Church and, more famously, the Agape International Spiritual Center in California, home to New Thought minister and occasional television personality Michael Beckwith.
But DeFoort added something more to the Red Door: It would preach the value of music, movement and meditation.
And when she held her first Red Door gathering this fall, dance was an intrinsic part of the program.
"I think it's been around for a long time, but it's never really been all that mainstream," says Gorman. "I call it 'authentic movement.' A lot of people learn very kinesthetically, whether they know it or not, so we encourage people to look within and really feel what's going on in their body and integrate that into the lesson. To do that holistically, you need to tap into all different levels of being human: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. We're not one-dimensional beings; we're very complex, and if you want to truly integrate something, you need to touch all those levels."
Most of those who find their way to the Red Door are spiritual travelers who've ventured to the far regions of spirituality and back again, or at the very least are open to such a journey. So while DeFoort may name-drop Thoreau, she's just as likely to find inspiration at a Michael Franti concert.
"I knew that this church would not be something for everyone, but I really didn't want it to cater to the masses," she says. "There are pockets of people out there who are really willing to live and be on the edge and do not care about whether they are accepted inside the norm. They're spiritually willing to study this crazy stuff that most people wouldn't even consider, and they are also able to physically be themselves."
"The Red Door is for people who want a sense of spiritual connection to a community," says Rana, who describes his role as that of peacekeeper. "It's for people who don't necessarily care for any specific dogma; it's for people who want to be moved by the music. The Red Door is for people who want to experience their bodies as an instrument."
DeFoort refers to them as "indigo kids" and sees parallels between the Red Door and a current trend in indie rock, with spiritually driven bands like Yeasayer and Cloud Cult gaining in popularity. But she's also noticing an older contingent at the Sunday gatherings, people who moved beyond clubbing and drugs years ago. "This particular group that is there now, the only time we got to see each other before was when someone would throw a social event," she says. "We're still the same black sheep we were, though, and you go out in the world and that's challenging sometimes, and you crave to be with other black sheep. Now we have this, and we get juiced just being around each other and remembering that okay, there is nothing wrong with us, we are a group of people who are curious about our spirituality, who are not judging but accepting — and at the Red Door, we can completely be ourselves. If we have the opportunity to do that every week, I just think it makes life easier."