Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sacramental Mindfulness

This very sick child's sunken eyes and racing heart betrayed his dehydrated condition, in his case probably related to Typhoid Fever, a severe gastroenteritis caused from a virulent species of Salmonella. Contracted by drinking tainted water, Typhoid Fever is endemic in Haiti.

Next time you drink a glass of water from the tap, be thankful you don't have to worry about getting Typhoid Fever.

As I've said in earlier posts, I am someone that tends to wax reflective, paying attention to everyday realities and events in order to see if there might lie truth beyond the obvious. Here's my thinking...

Our basic inclination, I think, as earthly creatures, is to hold physical and spiritual realities at arm’s length from each other, sequestering the spiritual from the physical. I believe we have been duped by modernity, which asks: “If we can examine it, measure it, quantify it, analyze it and predict it, then how could there possibly be anything divine about it?” In our dualism we lose the reverence of what God has made. Ken Gire, in his book, The Reflective Life quotes Abraham Heschel on this point: “Let your conceit diminish your ability to revere and the universe becomes a marketplace for you.” (Abraham Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosphy of Judaism). Gire goes on to state: “We can objectify the world or sanctify it. When we objectify the world, we view it and all that is in it as existing solely for our use, whether that use is for pleasure or profit or patriotism. When we sanctify the world, we view it and all that is in it with appreciation. In doing so, we recognize them not simply as objects, but as objects created by God that in some way reflect Him and all that is dear to Him, the way a work of art in some way reflects the artist and what is dear to the artist’s heart.”

We tend to confine the sacred to a fenced-in-area,” Philip Yancey states in Rumors of Another World, “the ‘spiritual,’ reserved for church activities. Many people rarely give God a thought apart from an hour on Sunday morning, when they sing songs of praise, listen to a sermon, and then reenter the secular world as if passing through air lock.”

How do we rediscover, then, the art of seeing the divine in the ordinary, of regarding created things and created order less as physical, chemical, and physiological marvels so much as testimonials of their Originator? Philip Yancey, in his book Rumors of Another World, articulates it best: “As a start,” he states, “I can aim to make daily life sacramental, which means literally to keep the sacred (sacra) in mind (mental). In other words, I seek a mindfulness - a mind full- of God’s presence in the world. I have no desire to escape the natural world, the pattern of Gnostics, desert monks, and fundamentalists who flee “worldliness.” Nor do I deny the supernatural, the error of the reducers. Rather, I want to bring the two together, to reconnect life into the whole that God intended. This world, all of it, either belongs to God or it does not. If I take seriously the sacred origin of this world, at the very least I must learn to treat it as God’s work of art, something that gave God enormous pleasure.”

Lord, God… Creator of all that is…. Creator of me… please awaken me to the reality of Your presence in the world you have placed me in. Help me to see at least some of the “glimpses of truth Thou hast for me.” Amen.

“In every act of creation God is present, waiting to be discovered. The essence of the spiritual journey is the discovery of the presence of the sacred in everyday things, in everyday people, in everyday life.” Leonard Sweet, Soul Salsa

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you again and again for your entries. Also thank you for the references to the books that have helped awaken you to God's constant presence.

With foot surgery coming up in just one week, I'm stocking up on the books I haven't read yet.

Enjoy your journey .... we're praying for you and your family.

The Trotman's