A few years ago our local group of clergy met to discuss the level of spiritual maturity in our congregations. What put us onto the topic was research from Willow Creek Community Church that found no correlation between high involvement in the normal activities of congregational life and growth toward spiritual maturity.
Last summer, my big adventure was a bicycle trip through northern Portugal, where church bells still ring the hours and homeowners value grape arbors more highly than garages. While some people I met grieve the loss of their nation’s one-time dominance in the world, others admit that obscurity has its benefits.
In the absence of a real, live spiritual director, I often turn to the Desert Fathers for wisdom about living a holy life on earth. My farm is no desert, but enough happens here for me to understand St. Anthony’s reply to the philosopher who asked him how he could be happy without books.
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