I started pursuing my soul by not running after it but sitting quietly with it. My journey entailed giving attention to, and gaining knowledge of, who I am (created in the image of God) by spending time with God. Like Jesus I’ve developed a need to go off to a quiet place and have one-on-one simple time with God.
I was part of the support system for Archbishop Desmond Tutu when I worked for The General Theological Seminary (Episcopal) in New York City while he was having cancer treatments. My office was located near the main entrance and most people passed my open door, either going to class or home. There were days when Bishop Tutu returned from treatment and he could barely move his body. He used my office as a respite en route to his apartment. I closed the door on his visits to give him privacy as I soon became aware these visits were not purely social. There were days when we chatted about nothing at all, while other days we just sat together, and I quietly continued my work.
One of my jobs was to give tours to prospective students and on one occasion while I was drilling through the history of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, I detected movement in a dark corner. I simply noted someone was praying and concluded my remarks outside the great doors. On subsequent journeys to the chapel during the middle of the day, I observed the same slow, deliberate motion in that still small corner. I later discovered it was Bishop Desmond. I thought, “Of course it is! How could anyone who radiates the love of God with such intensity, not spend concentrated time with God?” I really wanted to ask him, “What do you and God talk about?” But I didn’t want to intrude on his private conversation. Now I think maybe they weren’t talking at all. Perhaps they were just being together enjoying one another in the Kingdom of God.
I used to think the Kingdom of God was a place of golden streets and angelic voices where I could possibly earn admission after I died, if I were really good during my earthly existence. And while I do believe there is an afterlife (I don’t give much attention to the architecture) I also understand the kingdom lives within us. Henri Nouwen describes the kingdom as, “… the place where God’s Spirit guides us, heals us, challenges us and renews us continuously.”
I think I’ll spend some vacation time there.