Originally uploaded by ericblauer.
In American, alas, beauty has become something you drive to...-–Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods (1998), p. 200
This new year I am seeking to put into practice, new and neglected rhythms that will help restore balance to these three areas of my life that I think are essential to true health:
time alone: to hear from God, to read Scripture, to read others.
time with one: spouse (if applicable), mentor, peers.
time with groups: doing fun, doing ministry, sharing life.
Part of that goal is getting outside more. Walking, hiking, sitting. Part of that means I got to drive too. Thankfully I live in a city that is surrounded with beauty and places to reflect and pray and think. But the real goal is to nurture this solitude and silence and reflective ability within my own soul. You can't always leave, get away or walk in the woods but you can pray without ceasing. That is a internal reality that isn't based on being in a beautiful place but before His face. I want to walk in that reality more.
A poor urban neighborhood is the perfect place to learn to do this. The work of God involves cultivating beauty internally and outwardly among a community of people.
This involves saying yes to somethings and no to others. It requires discipline...which isn't a bad word. It can set you free.
"A spiritual discipline . . is the concentrated effort to create some inner and outer space in our lives, where . . obedience can be practiced. Through a spiritual discipline we prevent the world from filling our lives to such an extent that there is no place left to listen. A spiritual discipline sets us free . . ." - Henri J. M. Nouwen; author
I heard pastor Rob Bell comment that the Sabbath was a day that God taught His people that they were valuable for who they were and not for what they produced. Egypt said they must produce bricks or die...their value was determined by how much they could produce. God said to set aside a day when you do nothing, produce nothing...don't work. That is a profound act of rebellion against our culture. I think it is a worthy revolt.
"Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give me an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give me an upright heart which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow on me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know You, diligence to seek You, wisdom to find You, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace You through Jesus Christ our Lord." - Thomas Aquinas