Saturday, March 05, 2005

Our Lives of Quiet Desperation

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau once penned:

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation"

This was written as Thoreau spent two years and two months on Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, pondering the life of being removed from civilization. There is wisdom in taking this time of separation to consider one' place in life, and the ways in which live moves around us and affects us.

Sitting by a Pond
I identify with the idea of separation in some ways, and the words of Thoreau, in that I have been on a journey of sorts for some time now, as we left our church home of many years, and are, in some ways but not all, "church homeless".

My wife and I have sought the counsel of a wise pastor, who understands well the struggles we have been facing. His encouragement has been very helpful. We have decided together that this is both a time of mourning for what we have lost and a time of discovery, to see what God will provide in the future. How thankful we are to have both wise counsel and a God that leads and cares for us.

I came across a second thought about this concept in an editorial in Christianity Today, that contains this quote:

"Natan Sharansky, in his The Case for Democracy, argues that societies are based on either fear or freedom. A free society allows for public protest without fear of punishment. Fear societies do not. As a result, fear societies subdivide three ways: there is a small minority of true believers in the totalitarian regime, another small minority of dissidents, and a vast middle of "doublethinkers." Doublethinkers publicly toe the repressive party line but inwardly yearn for freedom."

Doublethinkers. Interesting. I wonder if, in fact, we might have a form of quiet fear going on in all our own lives to some extent. Would the quote above not also be true for the spiritual state of us, and many of those around us. And what is the "regime" we face? Is it not a regime of consumerism, success defining our character, status in society? And what does "yearning for freedom" mean? Could it be a freedom of the heart, as described here?

Only relationship with Christ will make us truly free. But freedom is a subtle thing, there are varying degrees of freedom. Only the constant healing grace of the Savior can save us from "lives of quiet desperation" and transform us into free people.
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