Going to the desert
“Modern life is becoming so full that we need our own ways of going to the desert to be relieved of our plenty.” – Thomas Moore
The first time we ever drove across the United States en route to our new home in California, we thought we were making pretty good time when we arrived in Texarkana, on the border between Texas and Arkansas. Two days later we were still in Texas, after driving what seemed like forever through the parched landscapes on the way to El Paso. Then through New Mexico, Arizona and California, the desert went on and on. Jeff said “It’s kind of hard to worry about over-population after making this drive.”
Amid the traffic and crowds of the cities where we had lived and traveled, we had no real idea how much barren and unpopulated land still exists in America. Of course we knew it was there, but the vast extent of it was something we couldn’t imagine until we journeyed through it.
In the same way, contemporary life tricks us into believing there is no escape from the noise, rush and demands of every day. Routines our grandparents would have thought bizarre, such as being on call for dozens of people all our waking hours via cell phones and texting, have come to seem not only normal to us, but inescapable. But there are still places of refuge from such urgency, and I suspect they are more plentiful than we think they are until we have learned to visit them.
As I write this, I’m feeling very overwhelmed by all the tasks I did not get done yesterday, or a week ago, or even father back than that. My head spins as I try to sort out my thoughts and prioritize what must be done first. Yet I can’t escape the nagging feeling that I might be more efficient if I could somehow clear everything away for an hour or two and just breathe deeply without thinking much about anything. I’m not sure I could achieve that even if I tried.
But, I can do a few things today that might help. I can allow myself to work on one task at a time, and not allow interruptions to de-rail me. I can prioritize clearing away visual clutter to keep my eyes from contributing to the sensory overload. Most importantly, I can turn down that inner voice that continually chastises me for being so far behind in the first place. I can spend some time in quiet reading, prayer or gratitude, and “just say no” to self-imposed pressure.
What are some of your favorite ways of going to the desert?