I was traveling today, jamming in a quick bit of overdue R&R before my wife’s work resumes for the Fall.
For the first time I can remember, I did not go to Church. Instead, my wife and I took a leisurely drive down North Shore Chicago’s Sheridan Road, preferring (1) a leisurely drive over (2) attending an unfamiliar Church in her tradition or mine, followed by a hurried drive (to make a late-afternoon commitment back home).
Sheridan Road, in case you don’t know, hugs the Lake Michigan shore, with trees and curves and gentle hills. There’s almost always at least one home between road and shore, though. As you might imagine, they’re easily over a million dollars each, including a multi-million dollar Frank Lloyd Wright mansion.
There was on this crisp and clear morning a steady stream of cyclists, in pairs or groups, with an occasional solo rider, enjoying something I very much would have enjoyed doing, especially in that setting. There were Porsches with the tops down, at least one Rolls-Royce, and a Maybach.
Then we stopped at a coffee house in an elegant little shopping strip in Winnetka, a mile or so north of the Bahai Temple. It was full of tan, slender, beautiful people, lounging with Macs and New York Times and real estate listings for the North Shore. It looked so carefree, and so civilized.
It looked all the more attractive late in a rough and emotional summer, when both wife and I have been (and will continue) juggling a lot of demands, and following the apparent spiritual crash-and-burn of a friend who likewise faced many stressors (he’s Type A) for longer than we have.
It was very, very seductive. A body could easily get used to spending Sunday mornings like that.
Given enough money to indulge it, it might become irresistibly seductive.
It gave me fresh sympathy for my crashed-and-burned friend. And, thank God, it made me appreciate what I’ve got, which is basically what the author of Proverbs wanted:
Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
(Proverbs 30: 7-9, King James Bible)
Also, from the Antiphons of Matins in Mode III:
He who sows shedding godly tears when the south wind is blowing, joyously will harvest ears of life everlasting.
Amen to that!
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