I was driving back from a family memorial service in Central Texas for my cousin Stu, and started entering the vastly expansive city of Houston somewhere between Huntsville and Conroe. Once the city started it never stopped. It was night and the flashing lights of the multitude of new businesses which have exploded throughout the region north of Houston gave me that sense that Houston is gobbling the world.
From Huntsville driving south into Houston the electricity is endless. There are now skyscraper businesses, giant malls of the especially upscale variety, a widened interstate that can never seem to stay ahead of the growing population, and every form of entertainment you can imagine. Did you know you can now skydive indoors and get the exhilaration of flying for a fee?
If you are looking for stimulation on a Friday night, there is just no end to what you might find in the vast expanse called North Houston. The experience of driving through it all at 60 mph while most vehicles sped past at 85 mph, weaving in and out of lanes at break-neck speed like an actual video game, was over-stimulating for a contemplative. I felt like I don’t belong in this world, the world of unending stimulus. Obviously, some people like that adrenaline rush. But for me I just wanted to get back to some stillness.
This morning I am back in my home country, inner stillness. I am in the treasure that first found me years ago. I don’t mean I am at my house, for I am staying with my mother-in-law before driving back to New Orleans this afternoon. But I am sitting quietly with my legs crossed and my hands open on my knees. I am hearing raindrops outside this small apartment. I am Home.
Memories of yesterday’s memorial service and the treasured time spent with family are nearby. I am aware of our inter-connectedness as a family, whose homes reach from Northern California to Central Texas to Houston to New Orleans to North Alabama to Nashville. Extended family live in China and Germany. We are truly a global clan. And somehow, in a way that defies rationality, we are one.
I am also cherishing the simple loving-kindness that we share each time we gather. We tell each other stories of the family who are not present, catching up on details that matter because the family matters. We also share our latest heartaches, who is hurting now, and how that brings the suffering to all of us. We are part of each other in the inner being, defying theories of space and time. In the stillness this morning I know once again the gift of oneness across the web of divinity connecting us all.
So maybe there are some people gifted with the ability to find God’s presence in the stimulating business lights and speeding zig-zagging of cars and endless forms of entertainment. Maybe a gate of heaven opens for some people as they stand in awe of the incredible spirit of accomplishment that explains how Houston is gobbling the world. But for me, give me a place to sit with inner stillness, a bit of rain outside, and a heart full of beings who I treasure as lovely expressions of the One Who Holds Us All.
For more stories like this see Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic Culture, now available as a Kindle book.