Thursday, December 25, 2014
Taking a Break Towards Simplicity
This Christmas we chose to take a break from the hectic nature of the modern Christmas time. The break also incorporated a few days of hiatus from the technology of computers, Facebook and Twitter. We went up to Belton, Texas to a spiritual retreat center, Immanuel Prayer House. The setting was a quiet Texas Hill Country ranch. The simple buildings at the base of the hill reminded be of little villages at the base of mountains in South Korea I had seen when my wife and I visited her family there. At the top of this post you see my wife and daughter by their sign and the other pictures are of the grounds of the retreat center. My wife had read about the prayer house in a Korean newspaper she had picked up at a San Antonio Korean grocery store where we occasionally shop. This was a small Butterfly effect that grew to a fulfilling get away that was much needed for us all.
While it was a break from stress and the hustle and bustle of Christmas I recognized there was a break towards simplicity and a renewal of spiritual thinking and being. Each evening at 7:00 pm there was a worship service and each morning at 6:00 am there was a morning prayer service. Each service was in Korean and translated into English. The accommodations were simple in that we stayed in an old mobile home unit with no tv, and modest living arrangements. The sanctuary was very plain as well as the very small prayer buildings along the hillside. The grounds showed the ministry’s simplicity in being mostly self-sufficient, as they had vegetable gardens and chicken coups for eggs.
We had our meals with the Pastor and her husband, along with three ladies who helped with the ministry. It was at these dinner times I learned through my wife’s translation of their Korean that this retreat had been a vision the Pastor felt God had given her over 25 years prior when they had moved to the U. S. A. to help with church work. Her husband for those 25 years helped develop the land by building the various buildings and the garden areas. He verified my initial reflection as he stated he wanted to replicate small farming villages that can be seen in the countryside of South Korea.
This simple elderly Korean couple was the real deal of living out Christianity. They were not running a business instead it was a faith ministry. They did not have rates to stay there instead they asked only for a donation based on how an individual could pay or felt God telling them to give. They had no flashy furniture or high tech gadgets. Everything from their main residence to the worship chapel was simple and functional. Their lifestyle was an example of following the ways of Jesus.
The time spent there listening to her Bible messages, praying and walking through nature gazing at the awesome Texas skies renewed my spirit. I also had time instead of being on the computer, to read positive literature I had brought with me and my Bible. I used the time to think over the past year and pray about God’s will in the coming year of 2015. There is something about being on a hillside with a camera staring at the clouds and countryside reflecting on what God’s plans may be for the days and year ahead.
I don’t know if this is will be a yearly tradition at Christmas time. The relaxation that came from knowing that there is life away from Facebook and Twitter reminded me that we need breaks from technology as I have mentioned in the past. Technology is not bad in itself and there are good aspects to Twitter and Facebook. The key is to understand those social platforms should not control our lives. As a Christian who believes in the Biblical worldview of following Jesus in a simple and faith based manner is the primary way of living. The experience at Immanuel Prayer House reminded me that from time to time it is important to set aside time to break towards enjoying the simple pleasures of life that God has for a fulfilled life.
I would encourage you to in the New Year find times through the year to take a break from technology and do a personal or family retreat at a nature center or spiritual retreat center. The inner relaxation of your mind and spirit is a benefit to your well-being.
Reflection - Are you hooked on technology? How easy is it for you to take a short break from Social media platforms? Look for retreat centers or nature parks in your area where you could take a couple days away from home for a spiritual break for your being.