My teacher made the observation that citizen can be divided into city Zen. He stressed the importance of being able to find stillness within, not just in the special environments and times we occasionally set aside for that, such as retreats, but whenever we can in the everyday, workaday world.
Within the course of any given day, we are often subtly drained by the tides of negativity, wants, and fears, and we tend to regard this broken, depleted state as “normal.”
Far from being selfish, “city Zen” is necessary for being a true citizen of the Kingdom, anchored in truth, unswayed by circumstances, resentment, and gossip. It’s necessary to have peace to share peace, it’s necessary to have love to give love. It’s necessary to drink the living water to have abundant life that can be shared, or even to survive yourself.
I love this story from the Gospel of Thomas:
Jesus said: “Look at that man. He’s running circles trying to catch that lamb.”
His disciples said: “Yes, he’s going to kill it and eat it.”
Jesus said: “and of course, he can’t eat it until he catches it and kills it. . . You too, must find your place of repose, or else you will also be caught and devoured.”