“We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.”- Thomas Merton
“Hurry is not of the devil. Hurry is the devil.”- Carl Jung
This August Vicki and I vacationed in Door County (Wisconsin) to celebrate her 60th birthday. While participating in a Door County tradition- the fish boil- at the White Gull Inn (Fish Creek), a couple sitting with us mentioned a wonderful cruise they had taken on a 1937 Chicago fireboat. Connecting with my Chicago roots replenishes my soul, so I was all in.
The leisurely ninety-minute cruise began in Sturgeon Bay. Leaving the harbor, the fireboat traveled down a man-made canal to a lighthouse at the entrance to Lake Michigan, where it then turned around. I saw gulls, terns, cormorants, great blue herons, and a kingfisher. On this peaceful Monday morning, no one was asking, “Where’s the fire?”
Longtime Tonight Show host Johnny Carson once quipped that a New York Minute is the interval between a Manhattan traffic light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn. Impatience and a hair-trigger temper are symptoms of soul-fatigue. Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church describes what happens when our souls are in a state of unrest:
“When we are depleted, we get scattered. We lose our ability to focus, and we jump from one distraction to the next with little to show for it.”
Restlessness and unhappiness often have a negative reciprocal relationship. Asking ourselves “Where’s the fire?” potentially deepens our despair. External freedom is our misguided goal. Only soul-freedom gives us release, rest, and God’s peace. Over four centuries ago, French mathematician and Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal remarked that all human unhappiness stems from a single fact- people are unable to stay quietly in their own room. Solitude liberates us from the fires of this world and positions us to be receptive to God’s whispers. As Martin Luther writes, soul-freedom comes through joyful faith in God’s lordship and provision:
“Faith is a free surrender and joyous wager on the unseen, unknown, untested goodness of God.”
Through it all, it is well with my soul.