Hi there! Christmas is officially over, no matter what tradition you hold. It’s still winter, it’s still cold out there, at least where I live here in the mid-west. So, today, grab a cup of something warm and a snuggly favorite afghan or blanket and get cozy. What do you think of when you hear ‘best kept secret’? Do you know a place to travel? A book to read? A car to drive? A restaurant out of the way? A resource that most folks aren’t aware of? I have a couple of things that I think about along these lines.
The first one is a place. Quite often I mention it and the person I’m talking to has no idea that it exists. That’s unfortunate. Sanctuary of Hope Prayer and Retreat Center is in the heart of Kansas City, Kansas. The place has 32 acres of woods, trails, meadows, statues, places to pray, peace and quiet, or spiritual direction if you would like it or need it. The gentle, loving presence of God permeates the place. Their prices are really great, too. I literally found them on a Google search for a retreat center near my home. The spirituality of the place is very ecumenical. Folks are encouraged to meet God in whatever fashion they are comfortable seeking Him.
The staff has always been friendly, the food has always been wonderful, the bed has always been clean and comfy, and the chapel has always had what I needed. The trails are well-kept, the landscaping is beautiful, and they have quite a library in the day room. Accommodations are available for groups or individuals, days or overnights or longer.
Can you tell I love it? Fr. Dennis Wait, the Director of the center, has become a friend and mentor to me, as well. I actually start to work there next week. This is the place for which I ‘left the nets’ to ‘Come follow Me’ at the end of December. Here’s a link to the Facebook page, too. I can hardly wait to see what the Lord does with all of this!
So, the second best kept secret? It’s one of the best theology books I’ve ever read. Stay with me here. Theology is not over anyone’s head, nor is it necessarily dry and boring. Theology is just a big word for what we believe about God. This little book pulls from the Scriptures, the 1st century Church and early Church Fathers, and some saints-both ancient and contemporary. It’s well-organized so it’s easy to look up anything you need to know more about. Each chapter ends with a concise “In Brief” page that summarizes the pertinent points.
As a Protestant, I never even considered this book; as a soon-to-be Catholic, it’s been invaluable. One of the coolest things was how much it affirmed what I already believed. Catholics and Protestants have so very much in common! The section on the Beatitudes was wonderful. The section on the Ten Commandments was quite enlightening. The last hundred pages, give or take, is actually one of the best treatments of prayer I’ve ever read – and I have dozens of books on prayer in my library; I’ve read probably a hundred of them in my lifetime. This volume never ceased to surprise me with its clarity, its faithfulness to the Sacred Scriptures, and its concise ability to explain complicated truths- even those dealing with particularly ‘modern’ social issues. If you ever wondered what in the world they are doing during the Catholic Mass, the explanation is in there. My copy is paperback, about 800 pages, under $10. It’s available lots of places, including Amazon. If you haven’t already guessed, this book is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. To my Protestant friends, don’t be afraid of this. It’s actually an extremely cool library in one volume. To my Catholic friends, if you haven’t cracked the cover recently, you owe it to yourself to take a look!
So there you have my two favorite ‘best kept secrets’. What are yours? Please go ahead and comment so we can all share the great stuff out there!
Maybe this post sparked an interest or a hunger in your heart for more of a relationship with God, but you aren’t ready for a ‘retreat’ and don’t want to dive into a book. That’s okay! If you need someone to talk to, find a pastor or a priest. They will be glad to listen, help you figure out where you are on your spiritual journey and recommend some next steps you might take. Nothing brings a man of God more joy, and nothing will bring you more joy in this new year!
See you next time! And go ahead and share your favorite ‘best kept secrets’!