Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

29 January 2009

From Walden to the city


"I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion."
Thoreau (Walden)


Henry David Thoreau's Walden was written as he "lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again."

It's a beautiful book to read and steal away with, as the author has his reality transformed... by looking deeper. Through cutting off the stimuli of man and experiencing the senses in a fresh, raw way, Thoreau experiences what many (lamentably) never do. Life is vast... it's more than what we see on first glance.

In the streets and in society I am almost invariably cheap and dissipated, my life is unspeakably mean. No amount of gold or respectability would in the least redeem it,-- dining with the Governor or a member of Congress!! But alone in the distant woods or fields, in unpretending sprout-lands or pastures tracked by rabbits, even in a bleak and, to most, cheerless day, like this, when a villager would be thinking of his inn, I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related, and that cold and solitude are friends of mine. I suppose that this value, in my case, is equivalent to what others get by churchgoing and prayer. I come home to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful. I have told many that I walk every day about half the daylight, but I think they do not believe it. I wish to get the Concord, the Massachusetts, the America,
out of my head and be sane a part of every day.
Thoreau


Read an article recently in the Boston Globe about how being in the city, actually hurts a person's brain!

Just being in an urban environment, they have found, impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control. While it's long been recognized that city life is exhausting -- that's why Picasso left Paris -- this new research suggests that cities actually dull our thinking, sometimes dramatically so.

"The mind is a limited machine,"says Marc Berman, a psychologist at the University of Michigan and lead author of a new study that measured the cognitive deficits caused by a short urban walk. "And we're beginning to understand the different ways that a city can exceed those limitations."

So... is it time for city slickers everywhere to pack up their suitcases and head for the Canadian Shield to frolic with bunnies and squirrels? Actually, as this article indicates, this is first time in history, that the majority of people reside in cities. And God has designs on infiltrating cities. Because his people are there. So we're kinda like Thoreau when he says that he's a"sojourner in civilized life"

Part of the trick is sensing God. Really hearing His voice. Really seeing His hand. Really feeling His presence. Last night with my youth group and youth leaders... I led them in a sensory exercise where we shut of all the lights except the fireplace and layed down on the floor. We focused on feeling ourselves breathing... and quieting our thoughts. I both spoke about sight, sound, smell, taste... and gave them things to look at, listen to, smell and eat. We took a long time to REALLY pay attention to the textures, tones, and details of the stimuli that we often miss in frantic life.

Then after an hour of sharpening our senses, I played the Chris Tomlin song "God of the City". And I asked them to REALLY listen. To sense what the Spirit of God was saying about our city... the beehive of activity that can dull senses and even "reduce the self control" of the residents. It was amazing what people heard when they stopped... focused... and listened. Turns out that from the quiet place... it's easy to hear that God loves the city.

People are in cities... so we need to be in cities. Our struggle is not unlike Thoreau's when he tried to re-integrate into life. How do you take freedom to the swarming masses? Stop, listen, refresh yourself in the woods... in the darkness... in the prayer closet. Absolutely. But learn to do it in the middle of the chaos too. Not just for you... but for others. Get free, live free, free others.


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