Your Own Inner Walden Pond

In 1845 Henry David Thoreau went to Walden Pond, a sixty-two-acre body of water that was located just a few miles from his parent's house in Concord Massachusetts. 

Thoreau built a house near the pond, and for two years and two months lived there simply, writing, eating off of the land, entertaining visitors now and again, and making as few trips to town as possible.  

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life... (Walden, 91)

On Walden Pond was one of the books Thoreau worked on during this time, and it would go on to become a bestseller, and would also inspire countless young people from the 19th century and beyond to follow in his example.  

It is a romantic notion, isn't it?  The idea of finding a secluded and beautiful spot, fashioning a cabin that is comfortable and cozy, and spending your days writing, fishing, swinging in a hammock, tending a garden...  

And all while you'd be unplugged from society, removed from the cares of life and all of its trials and tribulations. 

There's something about that idea that seems pretty appealing, especially now in the world that we find ourselves in, am I right?  A long stay in a cabin in the woods with no access to the news or Tik Tok seems pretty awesome.  

The problem with all of this is the fact that most of us can't pull that off, except for short stints.  And if we get to a place in our life where those short stints of escape are the only real peace we can find... we're in for it. 

Mary Olive wrote a poem once about Walden and this very notion, and this is what she said that struck a chord with me: 

Going to Walden is not so easy a thing
As a green visit.  It is the slow and difficult 
Trick of living, and finding it where you are. 

In other words, you need to figure out how to carry your own personal, inner Walden Pond with you wherever you go.  Or you find visions of it wherever you happen to be.  And that, my friends, is easier said than done. 

But all this did get me thinking about the Apostle Paul, who had more than enough reasons to feel less than peaceful, and yet he pulled it off.  

Someone was always trying to have him killed, for starters.  He was beaten half to death more than a few times, thrown into prison, shipwrecked, bitten by a deadly snake, and a host of other things that could steal anyone's peace. 

But Paul carried his peace around with him wherever he found himself.  For example, he wrote this awesome line in a letter once when he was literally chained to a Roman guard as he was awaiting trial in Rome: 

I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. 

You've got to have some seriously potent inner peace to say something like that when you are chained to a guard who is watching your every move, and you have a death sentence hanging over your head. 

As much as we might like to run away to the "woods" every time our peace gets stolen, it's just not possible.  Besides, even that space can become less peace-giving if we aren't able to quiet the storms in our souls.  

But we can learn from the Apostle Paul to find contentment and peace in spite of our circumstances because we can trust God to be by our side no matter what we face.  

We can trust that the worst things are never the last things.  We can feel peace knowing that we are held by the love of the One who loves us more than we will ever know.  

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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