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The Desert Fathers in Disneyworld

Posted on April 24th, 2009

 Last week I took my 18 yr old and 14 year old to Disneyworld for four lovely days.  It is probably one of the least contemplative places I have ever visited, but one of the most fun! The creativity, quality, engineering and beauty that Disney has formed has a definite aspect of the glory of God. All I could think of was how the parades, floats, exhibits, even the rides, reflected the image of God in humans who created and shaped such a unique place. Since there was ample time to wait on my girls during the day, I spent a good amount of time meditating on The Sayings of The Desert Fathers by Benedicta Ward. I was grateful that, after thirty years with Christ, I am finally coming to a more integrated spirituality that can enjoy the fun of Disney out of a place of communion with God. (I did meet people who have been there 46x and that, of course, is another story). It was Merton who argued that the Sayings of the Desert Fathers needed to be meditated on, much like lectio divina, because of their depth, and that this was the only pathway to discover their meaning. I am discovering that to be true. They form for me welcome devotional after Scripture and a sharp contrast to the environment of Western Christianity in the 21st century where I live. I leave you with two that God used to richly edify me last week: “Three thoughts touble me. The first is that I ought to go and live somewhere else in the desert; the second is that I should go out and find a foreign country where no one knows me; and the third is that i should shut myself in my cell, see no one and eat every other day. Ammon (the abba) said, ‘None of these three would be any  use to you. Stay in your cell, eat a little every day, always keep in your heart the words of the publican in the Gospel, and you can be saved (Lk. 18:13).”  – I found saying the Jesus prayer through Disney filled me with such a joy -especially on the rollar coasters! The second saying regarded balance. The evangelicalism I grew up in was unconciously narrow  in its aversion to fun. It was clearly more spiritual to do share Christ intentionally at a place like Disney than actually enter into the joy of it. “Evagrius said, (regarding reading, prayer, solitude, fasting, etc)  – all these should be used at the proper times and in due measure. If they are not used at the wrong times and to excess, they are useful for a short time. But what is only useful for a short time, is harmful in the long run.” What might be a few of the great challenges to us living an  integrated, rich spirituality in the Western Church?

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