Streams in the Desert

Dallas Willard in his marvelously illuminating book, The Divine Conspiracy, opens with story of a pilot practicing high-speed maneuvers in a jet fighter.  “She turned the controls for what she thought was a steep ascent – and flew straight into the ground. She was unaware that she had been flying upside down. [Willard continues,] This is a parable of human existence in our times – not exactly that everyone is crashing, though there is enough of that – but most of us as individuals, and world society as a whole, live at high-speed and often with no clue to whether we are flying upside down or right-side up. Indeed, we are haunted by a strong suspicion that there may be no difference – or at least that it is unknown or irrelevant.” [1] Willard’s image sticks in my mind.  Often I feel like I’m flying upside down at full-speed.  I have gradually, sometimes grudgingly over the years, become a firm believer in the importance of renewal time and focus time on reconnecting with the Holy Trinity.  A part of my attempt at self-reformation is dedicated time in spiritual retreat.  This week, I am spending three days at a Catholic retreat center.  Just prior to that event I have spent a couple of days speaking at the annual Streams in the Desert Spiritual Life Retreat sponsored by the Ft. Worth District at Glen Lake.  (Going on retreat and being the presenter are very different experiences!) My wife will accurately tell you that I am an at best semi-reformed workaholic.  I am wrestling now and have so all my life with my own spiritual walk.  Two recent works have been shaping much of my thinking.  The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz and The Great Omission by Dallas Willard.  I desire to pick up their insights and lay them alongside some biblical teaching that I have been wrestling with.  Biblically I’ll use as a primary (but not exclusive) focal point Paul’s letter to the Colossians (following a suggestion from Dallas Willard that it make a marvelous starting point). I have heard rumors of another world and long for it.  I have heard stories of a greater life and hunger after it.  The voyage of my own Dawn Treader is upon me and I know that to rely on myself is sheer folly.
[1]           Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, p. 1