Star Gazing

17991487168I believe the soul is the very being of who you are.  It is the essence of your existence.  It is the principal of your presence.  It matters more than anything…and I mean, more than ANYTHING.  More than your job, more than your house, more than your car, more than your marriage, more than your family, even more than your dog.  And, if this is true, and I’m just thinking out loud, but if this is true…why do we waste time on things that do not feed our soul?  Why do we invest in things that distract us from becoming who we are truly meant to be at the very center of our spirit?

Why don’t we create a space in our life, our home, our work, our commute, and our relationships that feeds this soul, this part of us that will move from this world to the next even as our bodies lie rotting in the grave?  Why instead, do we seek to entertain and numb the senses?  Why do we stress about the money and the drive and the work and the bills and the, and the, and the?  Why don’t we look for ways to renew our soul, to feed the very core of our beings?  Why don’t we seek solace?  Why don’t we pursue purpose?  Why don’t we want wisdom?  Why don’t we ask for answers?

As I write this, I am attending a day-long personal Advent retreat.  I am sitting alone in a cloistered room in the upper level of this three-story, turn-of-the-century home studying the Christmas story and the Wise Men who so committedly pursued the star in the sky in order to see a king in a stable.  It was their purpose.  It was their passion.

This amazing home and the time “away” has giving me the opportunity to reflect on the “Stars” in my own life; those things which guide me into the presence of God.  They may be people, events, places, or even experiences.  And to be honest, as I’ve pondered this idea and searched for the guiding light of my life, I’ve realized that, sadly, I have very few.  Or rather, I am aware of very few: I suspect the stars are there but I’m simply unable to see them clearly.  I’m too distracted by the blinding glare of the false illumination in my world.

I am reminded of our trip to Yellowstone Park in 2009.  We were driving from one end of the park to the other and because of the heavy traffic and the great distance, we found ourselves shy of our destination very late at night in a high plateau in the park. There were no cities, no street lights, and no other cars for miles.  We were there, alone, in the darkness.  We stopped the car and turned out all the lights and sat on the hood, looking up into a sky that was unlike any I’d ever seen before.  Without man-made ambient light to limit our vision, we were able to see stars in a way we’d never seen them before.  The clarity and intensity of those heavenly bodies was breath-taking.  They spanned the night sky and left us at a loss for words, in awe of their scope and grandeur.

As I think about the search for stars in my life that leads me, I realize that there is no time in my life when I am not blinded by the ambient distractions a busy world.  Understand, I don’t blame anyone but myself.  I’ve erected the lights.  I’ve cultivated the distractions.  I’ve created the lack of space and time for careful observation and sky gazing.

The sad truth is that I fail to carve out time that is purely committed to this endeavor.  Instead, I fill my hours with television, movies, busy work, worry and games – as many distractions as possible, diversions of every kind.  As a result, I fail to feed by soul, exercise my body, and manage my physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

And so, it begs the question:  What would I need to do to renew my soul on a daily basis?  What space do I need to create that will allow me to find peace, discover grace, and feed my soul?  And if you are like me, and I suspect you are, what do you need to do?  What space do you need to create?

Let’s be honest; when is the last time you truly looked at the stars?

Close Friends

From the base of the north tower, the Arch is even more impressive as it stretches over 600 feet into the sky.

We purchased the tickets on line, which was a good idea.  This gave us an early start for the ride to the top of the arch without the hassle of waiting behind 100 people at the ticket kiosks.

If you’ve ever ridden to the top of the Arch, you know that it is a one of a kind experience.  Riders stand in the stairwell underneath the north or south section of the arch, behind the metal bar (this phrase was repeated about 15 times while we waited…BEHIND the metal BAR). When the elevator-like doors open, you are looking into an egg-like pod that would have worked great for Mork from Ork.  Five seats line the walls with a luminescent glow coming from behind the center seat.  It’s tight quarters, as you can tell from the five people anxious to leave the space and into the stairwell and out into daylight.

The three off us waited our turn to enter the pod / elevator / egg as instructed (BEHIND the metal BAR) when two more people joined us and stood BEHIND the metal BAR.  One was a little boy, about 10 years old.  The other, I assume was his father.

The father positioned his son in front of us, which gave him first entry into the elevator pod.  The father, a man about 6 foot, 2 inches tall, turned and reported with a smile, “I claim the middle seat.”

“Oh. Do you?” was my reply.

“I’m the tallest and the middle seat has the most leg room.” Well, then, please, by all means, take the entire pod.

As the we entered the elevated death ride, the tall guy climbed into his claimed seat.  The rest of us squeezed in around him as he stretched out his legs.  He smiled at us as we banged our heads into the low, curved ceiling of the tiny capsule.  “Ya.  That’s the other reason I take this seat.”  He waved his hand above his head to illustrate the three inches of clearance.  “More head room.”

My wife replied from her hunched over, fetal position, “This is a tight space, isn’t it?”

And then the man who claims things because he’s taller than everyone else said something I won’t forget, “Yes.  We’re going to be Close Friends.”

I immediately took issue with his statement.  Thankfully for everyone involved I only replied in my mind.  My big boy filter was turned on when my synapses shouted, “Close?  Yes.  Friends? NEVER.”

Can I share a word of advice for those of you who claim the last bagel, the best seat, the better view, the easier way, the best shopping cart, the fastest lane, the ?  Stop it.  You’re acting like a child.

Jesus said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”  Of course, in this case it was true.  He was first on but the LAST off of the death-ride-pod-thing.

And I smiled with justice on my side.