Image credit: Official PSDS
One thing I haven't had a chance to share with you yet is the city.
The city is the place Jesus showed me a few weeks after we left the woods. As you know, I spent several months this year taking a very meaningful journey through the woods with Jesus, and at the end of my 5-day silent retreat in early May, that journey through the woods came to an end.
Suddenly, Jesus and I were standing at the edge of the woods, looking out upon a hilly expanse of grass. It felt like we had entered upon a pastoral region of England. In fact, I half-expected us to find the village he had shown to me at the beginning of our journey through the woods as we walked among those hills.
But instead, he brought me to a city.
And I want to share the story of that city with you. Care to hear it?
When we came to the edge of the woods, we stood looking at that hilly expanse of grass for several days. And then we started walking. I could tell we weren't in any hurry to get anywhere in particular -- we were just walking and enjoying the sunshine, the hills, the grass, and one another's company. It was really beautiful.
Along the way, we came upon a few resting places -- a bench here and there, or a rock -- and we would stop and rest for a while in each of these places. As we walked or rested, we spent most of our time discussing my Still Forming space. By this point, I'd begun writing daily contemplative posts in that space, and I was very aware as I'd begun doing so that he wanted to be a part of writing those daily posts with me. So each day, we would walk and talk, and I would ask him what he wanted to say.
But then one day, out of the blue, Jesus started walking faster. He made a sharp left turn and began climbing a hill. And rather than walking together, I was suddenly following him. I didn't know where we were going, but it was very clear he did and that he wanted to get us there. So I followed him.
And then at the top of the hill, he stopped.
I stopped, too, and I quietly asked him if he wanted to share with me where we were going. I didn't ask because I was upset or needed to know. I just wondered if that was information he wanted to share with me.
And it turned out, it was.
He gestured his arm out, and when I followed his gesture, I saw the city spread out before us, a bit of a ways out in the distance. It looked very much like the image you see at the top of this post -- dark, urban, crowded, dingy -- full of buildings and feeling quite empty and full of soot.
This was the place we were going to. And I knew: this was the place we would do our work.
As I stood and looked at that city, I couldn't help but recall that verse in the Gospels where Jesus looks upon the city of Jerusalem and feels compassion:
When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd.
-- Matthew 9:37
Want to hear what happened next?
Stay tuned . . . (don't you love when I leave you hanging like that?!)