Beach Thoughts on Detachment

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I am not a fan of Fort Lauderdale. Sitting in a restaurant on Saturday overlooking one of the many canals that provide access to the city for those with boats, I thought how little that life appealed to me. Walking on the beaches built up with hotels, I thought how little it appealed to me.

Now I am back in my landlocked home and I think, how wonderful it would be to be back there. Without question Fort Lauderdale beach is built up, and I've always disliked beaches that were so commercial. But walking there on Saturday, I realized that there is a good side for those of us who love the sun but don't particularly like being IN it. These buildings provide a wonderful later-afternoon shade that makes swimming in the ocean so much more comfortable.

All of those points aside. I began to consider this whole trip for one reason and purpose--the question of attachment. Recording some of my thoughts after a beach-walk on Saturday, I thought about the question of desire:

But I had a series of questions. Is it wrong of me to want to live near the ocean ? The answer, I think, is no. Would it be wrong to work toward this goal? The answer, I think, is yes--because it would redirect attentions that should be lavished on God. This brings us back to the first question and the answer now seems to be that even the desire must be wrong. I don't really know the answer, but I do know the desire is real. . .

Is it wrong to want something? I believe we are made to want things, that our emptiness longs to be filled with God. Is it wrong to want to live somewhere else or to want to do something else as a means of employment? I don't think so--but the question becomes how much is it permissable to seek these things.

Looking at the lives of the great Saints, we don't see them wanting to live near the ocean or pining because they'd really rather have been carpenters rather than writers or clergy. Because they loved God sufficiently, all other things paled into obscurity. Ordinary life became extraordinary.

So perhaps it is not so much "wrong" to desire these things as it is symptomatic of the need for improvement. When we love God sufficiently everything else is subsumed in this love. When God is the focus of our attention, we no longer think about longer and longer vacations, and spending our time near the ocean or near the mountains, or near anything other than God himself.

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Perhaps we ought to consider the possibility that a desire may be a temptation rather than a sin.

And then I remembered something else:

St. Paul, when discussing meat sacrificed to idols, observed that a Christian may certainly go to a dinner party given by pagans, if he's invited and wants to.

I am not sure exactly how it applies.

Wants can get in the way of our walk with God, no question about it. I think the key is not eliminating wants, but in not getting addicted to the 'wants.' When those 'wants' are used to placate our sense of self, to compensate for some inner needs, then that is not good and it will get in the way of holiness. Only God can take care of our needs.

Your post also makes me think of vocations - not all of us are called to leave all our possessions and live in a monastery or convent. Some of us are called to live in the world - for a reason.

When you figure it out, let me know. I know that sounds flip, but it's the way I feel!



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 20, 2003 7:51 AM.

A Query for the Better Informed was the previous entry in this blog.

October Poem--Rosetti--Goblin Market is the next entry in this blog.

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