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Preacher's pulpit, March 8, 2002

March 08, 2002|By Basil Bell, special to this newspaper

Life is like walking a tight rope. However smart, beautiful, or wise you are, living is tight rope walking.

Life is too complex, complicated and overwhelming. According to one estimate, one in every 10 New Yorkers is seeing a psychiatrist or needs to!

When we have an overload deficit it can lead to certain neurotic patterns.

Words that we use to describe our society often describe well our personal lives. We could characterize our society by using words like aggressive, progressive, dynamic, vigorous, and volatile. You would never describe our day by words like stable, peaceful, quiet and steadfast.

Francis Bacon was the smartest man in Europe centuries ago. They still read his essays in school because they are profound. He became lord chancellor of England. Very rich. Very powerful. But he fell under a storm of temptation. He became guilty of financial corruption. He abjectly confessed and spent the last five years of his life in misery. Smart — but not smart enough.


Henry Thoreau was a man who lived in a culture more simple than our own, but he found it too noisy. You remember that he went to Walden Pond and all he took with him was a book or two and an axe. He said, "I can't maintain my equanimity unless I wander over fields for three or four hours a day." So he worked in his garden, he walked, he read and then he gave prescriptions for simplicity of living. His principles would be difficult to follow in the hustle and bustle of modern life, but they are worth remembering.

Thoreau said we should try to keep our accounts on our thumb nail. Imagine that with the IRS? He was all for simplicity of living, because the modern tendency to dabble in too many things can lead to tragedy.

This is especially true for our children. We have our kids involved in so many activities, supposedly to improve their IQ and a thousand other things, that our kids often manifest problems of nervousness and stress usually reserved for adults. In our day simplicity of living is an almost forgotten art.

Jesus lived an active life. There has never been another person who has accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. Yet, Jesus was never hurried or harried by life. What was Jesus' secret?

The answer is found in Mark 1:35, "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." It was during these quite times in communion with His heavenly Father that Jesus was able to sustain his sense of equilibrium and spiritual vitality. These times of prayer and meditation were what prepared Jesus to do the marvelous things that he did. Now, if Jesus needed a regular time for prayer and meditation with His heavenly Father, what about us?

W.E. Sangster wrote, "Slow me down Lord. Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tension of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical restorative power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations … of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book. Slow me down Lord and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life's enduring values that I may grow towards the stars of my greater destiny."

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