What haven’t you done in a long time? I recently asked myself this question. I surprised myself with what popped into my mind. I haven’t been to the mission in a long time. The mission I’m referring to is the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Founded by Fr. Junipero Serra in 1776, the “Jewel of the Missions” has long held a special place in my life. It is a timeless place filled with beautiful gardens, amazing old architecture and ruins, quiet fountains and high-quality art. It has been a central place in my quest of cultivating a beautiful life. Raised Irish-Catholic, I used to feed the pigeons there as a kid. Returning as an adult, I came for altogether completely, more urgent reasons. Read on…
It had been a long time since I paid this old friend a visit. Well over a year. Busy and hurried in favor of lesser things, I was like the guy in high school who dumps the beautiful girlfriend while all the other guys are saying, “Whaa?!! What were you thinking!” Today, I want to encourage you to do something you haven’t done in a long time. Something…anything…that renews your heart, mind and spirit.
A bit of backstory is in order. If you’ve read my book, The Longing: Embracing the Deepest Truth of Who You Are, you know that I suffered with chronic pain in my wrists for ten years. Absolutely kicked my ass-umptions about who I thought I was. In the summer of 2000, all that pain culminated in a two and a half month fog of depression, anxiety, and pain as my writing career died a slow, unwanted death. (It was from the seeds of this very broken season that The Longing and the ministry of The Grove were eventually born.)
As part of my restoration process, I began to visit the mission to pray and soak in the beauty of the place. Just sitting alone in the gardens or in the chapel or next to a fountain for an hour or two helped lift the pain and fog that had long overtaken residence in my life like a couple loud and nasty visiting relatives who smoked too much and controlled the TV clicker.
It was two years later in the mission gardens when God spoke to my heart about developing a retreat center for the arts and creativity. It was a calling I couldn’t ignore. Something I’d definitely not planned on or dreamed of. But three weeks later, also very unexpectedly, 12 acres of organic lemons and avocados were donated for developing The Grove Retreat Center (you can read about it here…we have some amazing renderings). The mission gardens became a place where my small staff and I often met to pray, sharing our life and ministry together.
Fast forward to this week. It had been well over a year since I’d visited the mission. I even had let my family membership card expire (How dare…a mortal sin I know!). So it wasn’t until I received a brand spanking new copy of my friend’s new book, An Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling, that the idea of revisiting the mission had even entered my mind. As you know, I’ve been a busy bee at The Grove trimming lemon trees, chainsawing down 75 avocado trees, and cultivating what no man is meant to do alone (at least this one).
Alan’s book and Jesus are now really messing with me. I love Alan’s opening line “I’m a recovering speed addict–and I don’t mean the drug.” I so relate to that. In An Unhurried Life, Alan challenges our life-draining culture that is addicted and attached to busyness, speed, and a soul-killing pace of life by offering a needed alternative…
Following Jesus’ rhythms of work and rest.
I am devouring this book and it has provoked me to make a few life-giving changes.
Like asking myself, “What is something I haven’t done in a long time?”
And so I went to the mission. To pray. Unplug. Detach. Commune with God. Listen to a gurgling fountain. Write in my journal. Take photos. Absorb the beauty.
All the rest took care of itself.
How about you? What is something you haven’t done in a long time?
It’s a question worth answering.
Questions: You know what I’m going to say, right? What is something you haven’t done in a long time? And what are you going to do about it?
(The first five people to respond to this question will receive a free copy of An Unhurried Life. This is a great book…below is an Amazon Affiliate link if you’d like to purchase now.)
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