Cathedrals are where you find them. There is probably non so beautiful as the Sawtooth Range above Stanley, Idaho. I took a group of chaplain students there several years ago. These visitors, who came from around the country and world, quieted themselves as we neared the vista point that presented itself along Highway 21. At on point we all got out. Footsteps slowed; voices were muted. I was struck with the silence—even when other visitors pulled over and stopped. No cell phones perched at ears—nor the noises of radio, CD or mass media—just the wind in the trees connecting us to our souls.
In that kind of place, strangers take each other’s photos amid a beauty that evokes the eternal. The splendor lifts us out of the humdrum and point us to the everlasting where beauty dwells. Peace and hope are awakened in those places. Hearts find release from the narrow confinements of normal routines and everyday vision. There is a broad, open space where we can breathe a collective sigh where our fatigued souls can step off the carousel of production. We find freedom and joy of being human that is so long drowned by all the clamor and cries for immediate attention and gratification.
We can be unplugged for those moments in our cathedrals—we listen to the inner voices that tell us what we genuinely want and need. We listen…waiting to hear that we are connected to more than the daily clatter. And we intuitively discover who we are—children of the creator. Defenses down, with nothing to produce, prove or purchase, we become ourselves again. THIS IS NOT SMALL THING! Many of us live noisy crowded lives where there is space for virtually everything but ourselves—our real selves—who cautiously creep from their hiding places only when there is enough space. This is an immense tragedy, for too often what is most missing from our lives is ourselves!
Being ourselves is exactly what our Lord desires from us. Each of us is a word—spoken from eternity into time, partial expressions of God’s own glory. If we lose ourselves, the world is denied the unique expressions that God’s gracious Spirit is pleased to take in each of us. And we lose the only place we can find and know real joy—the delight that bubbles up at the reality of just being alive, of touching the flesh of someone we love, of hearing the voice of a child on the phone, or of doing work that blesses others.
What we need is “holy leisure.” Holy leisure is not that breathless, prepackaged activity that big business sells us as recreation. Most of that product is oversold diversion without depth. Holy leisure is an open space in our lives and schedules where we listen to the deep voices in our hearts. It is time to broaden our vison and enlarge our hearts. It makes us mindful of where we are going and why. It allows us to ask again: “Just who is this person whom God has created and what am I to be about in this life?”
Sooo…simply find that “cathedral” where God speaks to you—a park bench, a backyard garden, a favorite chair by a sunny window, a stroll along a familiar stream, or a gather of good people and good music (at a socially distance) that inspires you to the eternal. Settle down and in and discover again who you are. I hope that you will take some time this summer for that kind holy leisure.