Simplicity

les choses, les plus simples (the simple thing...Image by Ferran. via Flickr

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in.
Hebrews 12:1-2

I have been thinking recently about baggage and how our modern life can become so weighed down with this and that and the other. We're busy, running from one place to another and even our leisure time is packed full of things to do. I have a list of recorded TV programmes as long as your arm and at the back of my mind I wonder when I am ever going to get around to watching them. The mobile phone feeds me constant distraction and the emails that pour into my inbox have to be seen to be believed! It seems to me that it is becoming harder and harder to turn the heart towards God in our busy and distracting world.

On my recent retreat I found myself sitting in the library doing nothing. I mean doing nothing. For a whole hour! I just sat alone with my thoughts. I'm not even sure I was praying as such. Being in a secluded retreat house enabled me to do just that and as simple as it was, it was something I shall never forget, a moment in time.

A few days ago the BBC showed a programme called Extreme Pilgrim. It documented the journey of a parish priest who decided to spend 3 weeks alone is a desert cave after the example of St Anthony. It was an extraordinary glimpse into what happens when we are indeed stripped of everything that occupies us, physically and emotionally. There was a part of me that cried out for such an experience, however difficult and painful. For this is the path to God. Letting go of everything that holds us so that we might be held by Him. May God give us grace to see what holds us and enable us to let go. May we be able to take those moments of solitude and quiet that He gives us and make the most of every opportunity.

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Comments

Steveunohoo said…
I saw the programme 'Extreme Pilgrim' as you know and found it immensely challenging.Evangelical protestants have much to learn fromthe spiritual disciplines of aesthetes. We seem at times to think that we have a God-given right to all the good things in life which makes us spiritually complacent all too often.If we were a REAL prayer warrior we would achieve so much more on the spiritual front. Christ's periods of withdrawal from the world amply demonstrate this:read the Temptations in the Wilderness,for example.
Hush said…
Amen, Mike.. and yes, Steve, that, too.
Andrea said…
Great post. You know, I cannot remember the last time I looked around and thought I was bored. There is always something to do, places to be....life is too rushed. We all need to slow down and enjoy life. And I would love to be right there in your picture relaxing and meditating. Beautiful picture.
kostas said…
- Tree, alone as person
- Sky, clean as the heart
- Colour, as the mum of ground, the grainfield, that nourishes world, elevation This.
These words came in lips as soon as I saw your amazing photograph.
GrandmaK said…
What wonderful insight. Though it may sound frivolous, it is not intended as such. It is much like having to clean out the garage. There is always something there that you think you can't live without or will need. You get rid of it anyway and find the only void left is the one that makes room for something that is really needed. And so it is with our soul. If we can get rid of the trash, we leave a void large enough to be filled by the grace of God...Thank you!!! It was a wonderful reflection, Mike! Cathy
I need to think of the same. It's hard to let things go, even though we know it won't be with us forever. Why are we that way?
Wanda said…
Yes, I too long for a retreat of such significence. After I read The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, I realized just what a lavish life I live....I so need silence, solitute and prayer. I try to carve out such a time each day, but it's amazing how life gets in the way.
Love your post Brother Mike...
Suz said…
hmmm...I hear you. May the time of your retreat continue to reverberate in your head and heart! I look forward to one next month myself.
Amrita said…
You are right Mike, life is getting so busy. i think science and technology is controlling us.Those futuristic type movies could be true.

My friend from UK also told me about Extreme Pilgrim. She told me about a program about a Christian priest becoming a hindu sadhu just to experience another religion. Somebody called Col Vicar.
Sidharth said…
As hunger leads to food, and thirst leads us to water, loneliness leads us into relationship [with our Creator] =)

Sid
Great post and makes us think!!!
Susan
zakscloset said…
you are so right! i feel like i have way too many obligations everyday although i'm the one who is putting myself into that situation. thanks for the idea, when i graduate i'm gonna empty my brain and do nothing. (oh but eat of course!)
The book of Hebrews is calling me right now too. "For we are not of those who draw back...". So I'm pressing in toward Him with all I've got. Because HE really is ALL I have and ALL I need.
Sharon said…
Those times are definitely few and far between. Even if you turn everything off in the house. I don't know if it's the same where you are (don't know why it wouldn't be), but here, even if you turn off everything - there is still noise. You don't realize it until there's a power failure, and then you hear total, complete silence. Silence so loud, your ears ring, if you know what I mean. We need more of that. Silence that deafens us, so that we can hear God speak.
granmal said…
I found your blog from Sharon and Melissa - I find your words encouraging. May we all find time to focus on the Lord and spend time with Him. Jesus always sought to get alone time with the Father, we should try to follow his example more.
Gudl said…
Yes, you are so right!
mrsnesbitt said…
What an inspiring photograph. Focussed.
Some days we need to strip away the annoying distractions of the day and focus on what is important.
Sandy Carlson said…
I have a friend who has learned to cherish wait times and delays as opportunities to meditate rather than to complain life isn't moving along fast enough. His way of being speaks to what you are saying here.
Angie said…
It's so hard to find a quiet place in this noisy world, but I crave it. We must seek peace and pursue it to find it. It simply will not fall into our laps. Excellent post.
Hi Mike thanks for thsi post,one of the strategies our pastor gave us for surviving the year 2008 was "Simplify your life".