It is said that there are three important concerns in real estate: “Location, location, location.” It’s funny because it’s true.
If you love to golf, your dream house is adjacent to a golf course — maybe not so close that you get golf balls flying through your windows, but close enough to walk to the clubhouse. Likewise, if you love the ocean, there’s nothing like beachfront property; if the lake is your thing, then you want waterfront property. And so it goes.
My wife and I keep going back and forth about where we want to retire. Her best friend lives in Asheville, NC, and we just love that town, nestled in the mountains and filled with more culture — and vegetarian restaurants — than you’d ever expect from a community its size. The one thing it lacks, alas, is a Cistercian monastery. So competing with Asheville is good ol’ Conyers, GA, where the Monastery is. Wherever we end up, we will be drawn there because of something (or some ones) we love.
Human axiom: we want to be close to what it is (or who it is) we love. I’m reading John Ruusbroec these days, and he speaks eloquently about being “touched” by God. We who are drawn to the contemplative life want to be touched by God. We want “God-front” property. The location we seek is God-location.
The punchline to the joke, of course, is that God is everywhere. The only thing separating “God-front” property from locations that feel or seem far removed from God is the dynamics of our own thoughts, mind, attitude, choice. When we build our house on the land we have been given, do we build it facing the lake, or do we turn it away?
Even if we build our house like a strong fortress, God can seep in through the cracks. God is funny that way. It is said that it takes more effort for our facial muscles to frown than to smile. I think the contemplative life works the same way. We work hard at being distracted. The key, it seems to me, is to learn to relax into God’s loving presence.
That’s when every location becomes a Divine location.