…and know

With my good friends Jim Shepherd and Justin Harris and my son Cole we climbed three fourteen thousand foot peaks in four days of backpacking in South Colony Canyon in the Sangre De Cristo range of south central Colorado.  I went to the mountains to refresh, revive and re-think.  I am still tired even after three days of rest.

I have come away from these mountains wanting a well-marbled and muscular soul.  My body is far from that.  I am average in intelligence.  Emotionally I probably run a bit of an anger-fever.  But I want my soul to get deeper and more expansive with every passing year and challenging experience.

For it is in the dark cellar of the soul that character is wrought.  And character is what I take into eternity.  I feel the heaviness of this world—in my soul.  I value the majestic beauty of the gray-blue mountains scratching the indigo sky— in my soul.  I am angered at the destruction of the gulf waters by corporate and governmental carelessness—in my soul.  I laugh with the flowers of the alpine meadow—in my soul.   My chin quivers and my eyes burn when my grandson begs his mom if he can go with me to climb mountains—in my soul.

I think of my friends who are so busy.  (That includes most of you who are reading this) Their frenetic pace is suffocating.  It is like they have put a Wal-Mart bag over their souls.  They are dying.  Richard Foster says, “Business is the enemy of adoration.”  Our souls were designed to adore.  Adore our children, not use them as ego-extensions to achieve sports glory vicariously in this soccer team and that little league game.  Adore our community, not be so frazzled at the end of the day that we can’t meet our neighbor and serve them in whatever way brings them joy.  Adore our land, not use it to improve the bottom line of massive corporations so we can have plastic water bottles that will fill our landfills for millennia.

As I write this I am sitting at the Salida Café on the banks of the Arkansas River not too far from her headwaters.  The river flowing before me rushes nourishment to the low-lands and provides recreational enjoyment to countless outdoors lovers.  My soul is like that river.  For from my soul flow nourishment and mineral-rich sediment that settle into my emotions, mind and body providing recovery energy for life.

The three peaks last week were brutal climbs.  My feet, legs and back are extremely sore.  It hurts to get out of the chair.  I limp when I walk.  I toss and turn in bed at night due to the pain in my back.  I take anti-inflammatory pills like they were vitamins.  But I feel fully alive.  I am filled with desire.  I am beginning to see through the veil of the saccharine substitutes that we pass as essential to soul contentment.

I want to call people to save their own souls.  Not in an eternal salvific way, for that is the work of Jesus on the cross; but in a daily operational way.  You can’t save your soul by filling your schedule with civic meetings, soccer games, and trivia activity.  You can’t save your soul by watching T.V. or staring at Facebook.  You can’t deepen your soul by chit-chatting your way through life.  You can’t get there from here doing this.  You have to slow down and commit to NOT do some things.

Writing these words and living them out in my community of Harbour Pointe  is what it must feel like to be mayor of Las Vegas and try to start and anti-gambling campaign to rid the city of the one thing it is for which it is known.  But I am going to try… I know it is countercultural.  And if you decide to cut back serving the Lord and still maintain your soccer mom lifestyle…God have mercy.

Would you read a piece of literature that doesn’t have a vampire in it?  Heck…would you read?  Would you turn your T.V. off and go for a walk with someone special without your Blackberry or ipod?  Would you re-arrange your schedule so that you can have a meaningful conversation with a friend who will challenge you to live deeply and fully?  Would you turn off your mind and awaken your soul?  Would you make time to sit alone with God?

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?


10 thoughts on “…and know

  1. It’s good to hear you have taken time to nurture your soul. I like what you are saying. I wonder about the definiton of soul contentment…isn’t it subjective? Some are stirred by music – classical to hip hop. Is hip hop more trivial than classical? I dunno…it’s just a question. I appreciate what you are encouraging us to think about…to not be content with shallowness. The real tradgedy is that we are the ones missing when we don’t take time to go deeper.

  2. I work pretty hard to pace myself and take care of my soul year round. I am looked at as if I came from a different planet most of the time. Yes, there are some things that are peculiar to the individual as far as soul food is concerned. But there are some constants. Just like food in general. Healthy eating is healthy eating. How one gets their protein can be in lentils or chicken depending on tastes and preferences. But eating well is the point.

  3. Agreed. It is a very tough topic but we all need to be concerned with what we are shoveling into our souls. I look at the gospel and the rhythm of life Jesus calls us into and its like watching “super size me” when living on a fast food diet.its a shock to the system but now you are faced with a choice; ignore the truth or radically change the way you live. Sometimes I wish Jesus wasn’t such a radical 🙂

  4. Joe, you are a gifted writer and an amazing “truth teller” for God. I appreciate your wisdom so much. Thanks for sharing your Godly thoughts

  5. I used to live just below Mt. Whitney (CA) and this brought back some wonderful memories from my climbing days. I am very different from many of my friends and find peace in walking the prairie and observing and photographing wildlife. “Be still and know that I am God” We have trouble with stillness.

  6. Well said Joe. I think you have put the words of Paul in a modern day context. He calls us to trust the plan Phil 3:12
    Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Oh that we may all discover the joy to be found as we discover how He has taken hold of us.

  7. Pingback: Admirable Thoughts: Writings of Code Monkey

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