The pop artist Jewel, a young woman in her middle 20s whose albums have sold millions, talked several years ago with Rolling Stone magazine about her motivations. She said, "I'm just a person who is honestly trying to live my life and asking, 'How do you be spiritual and live in the world without going to a monastery?'"
Her question rattled around in my brain, for neither can I move to a monastery. I'm stuck in the suburbs. Some days I fantasize about moving my family from our western Chicago suburb to a small town in the western United States, edged by a rambling stream and cradled in the foothills of a mountain range with a romantic name like the Spanish Peaks. There, we'd live out our days in simplicity and in natural beauty and with few financial anxieties. Life would be fully aligned. Our frenetic life would slow to a manageable pace, and God would be easier to access.
But I know that what glistens in my mind is a phantasm; I know what small towns are like. I grew up in mostly rural ...1