Debating India's caste system: 7-26-11
9/11's psychological damage: 7-28-11

Places to find ourselves again: 7-27-11


PITTSBURG, Mo. -- I spent the first two days of this week here at the Hermitage Spiritual Retreat Center on Lake Pomme de Terre.

But I wasn't exactly on a retreat. Rather, I was gathered for the annual meeting of the non-profit center's board of directors -- wonderful people who believe it's important for there to be a place in the world to which one may go to breathe again, to slow down one's heart, to daydream about God, to set at a distance all the pressures of life.

For a blog entry I wrote about being at the center last fall with my wife, click here. (I took the photo here today on that trip.)

The man who lives here at the center and oversees its operations is W. Paul Jones, who spent most of his professional life teaching as a United Methodist clergyman teaching at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City but who today is a Catholic priest and Trappist monk.

He's a wonderful heart (and a great writer), and some years ago I had the privilege of co-teaching a weeklong class with him at Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico on doctrines that divide the Christian church.

My point in raising all this today is simple: I encourage you to find a place of retreat. There are many choices available offered by many different faith communities. And, of course, there are simple secular resorts you can use, too. But we will simply lose ourselves if we don't find ways to breathe deeply, think carefully and simply be for a time. The first question in the Westminster Cathechism asks what the chief purpose of human life is. And the answer is to glorify and "enjoy" God forever.

The Hermitage Spiritual Retreat Center is one of the places you can do the enjoying intentionally.

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Driving back from Lake Pomme de Terre yesterday I heard radio clips of a pastor at a NASCAR event praying a prayer of thanks for his "smokin' hot wife." I laughed. I hope you'll laugh, too, and not get bent out of shape. This is the NASCAR version of Celtic Spirituality, I think.

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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online. To read it click here.


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