I spent last week in England – alas, mostly foggy and soggy – attending the European Jesuit Webmasters conference. [It was, incidentally, at a Non-Conformist retreat house. 100% Christian, but without a chapel or any religious iconography at all. Very odd!]
I was amazed at how many simple pleasures the trip afforded me:
1. Birdsong. At home, there may well be birdsong in the morning but I’m in too much of a rush to notice if it’s there. In the retreat center, I woke up every morning to a joyful chorus of birds singing their hearts out. Fantastic.
2. Silence. Chicago is a great city, but it is noisy. The conference was held about 50 miles outside London and the silence at night is profound. The silence was so strong that it had a presence of its own.
3. Stars. We were far enough from any built-up area that many more stars than I normally see were visible (when they weren’t covered by clouds!) Sweet.
4. Food. British food doesn’t get that many plaudits and, as you can imagine, retreat house food is not exactly top-notch. But I did find myself enjoying cookies that I haven’t eaten since my childhood and the white bread transformed into cold toast – bliss!
5. Tea. At home, I live in a coffee-dominated world where we tea drinkers are thought of as slightly odd. How delightful it was to be back in a place where tea is the default option and those wanting coffee are regarded slightly askance.
So, what simple pleasures do you you want to give thanks for today?