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?