Thursday, January 11, 2007

Simply the Best

When I lived in Los Angeles I periodically drove up to the Serra Retreat Center ( in Malibu to spend a half-day or so in solitude, prayer, reading and reflection. It was the equivalent of a whirlpool and sauna for my spirit, and I have missed it since moving to Houston in 2003. So I recently visited the Cenacle Retreat House ( in the west Memorial area of Houston for the same purpose. The sceneries are different (a mountain top and grand views of the Pacific versus pine trees and soft grass next to Buffalo Bayou) but the effect is the same: a sense of wonder at the beauty of creation and a renewing restfulness in the midst of stillness.

The other day I was working at home and reading the book on marriage from which Angela and I teach our Wednesday night class. After I finished the chapter I put my head back on the recliner chair next to the open window on a spectacularly pretty blue-skied day with wispy clouds and temperatures in the 60’s and drifted into a half-asleep, half-awake day-dream that I was lying by the ocean and the waves were softly cresting onto shore and I had all the time in the world and life was peaceful and good and then my idiotic dog started yapping at a squirrel and I awoke with a jolt and grudgingly lumbered back to my desk.

After my dog’s funeral I wondered again why these kinds of moments are so fleeting, why I allow myself to get sucked into the crazy busyness and frenzied pace that so many of us find ourselves maintaining. Just the other day I saw a mother driving a minivan with two children in back watching a video on the overhead screen while she talked on her cell phone and raced to make a left turn across traffic as the light turned red. I remember thinking, how will those kids ever learn to be alone with their thoughts if they can’t ride in a car without being entertained by a video? The price we pay for all this is evident in the stressful and fragmented lives we lead; I am wondering, what is the benefit?

In 2007 I will be preaching once a month on the classic spiritual disciplines which serve to help us cultivate the soil of our life for God to pour out his life-giving nourishment into us. Today I will talk about the discipline of simplicity, by which we clear space in our hearts and in our lives for God. Simplicity’s cost is to slow down and de-accumulate, which takes some doing in our society. Its benefit is to open us up to God’s promptings and to help us relish the God-given beauty of life.

Retreat centers are wonderful, and I highly recommend periodically spending time at one. But within each of us there is the ability by God’s spirit and our own purposefulness to cultivate a rhythm of life, and values for life, that better connect us to the One who want us to have life in His name. Minus the yapping dog, may he rest in peacefulness and tranquility.


Blogger Toni said...

Your comments about Britney Spears and other celebrities is so compassionate. I am ashamed of myself. Thank you for making me think of her soul rather than what I see.
Toni Perry

6:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home