Monday, 5 October 2015
Week #26: Consider the present sacred
For each of us there is a certain degree in which our lives are filled with the mundane and the normal. In fact, most of our lives probably do not exude the extraordinary, the miraculous, the exciting events that we spend much of our time hoping for. Rather, we live amid the humdrum of life. The routine. The trivial. The regular. There are phone-calls and deadlines, traffic jams, and dinner preparations. Rarely do we see these moments as places of providential blessings or miraculous peace.
What do we do with these ordinary moments, moments that simply bleed one into another? Often, we ignore them. They are, after all, nothing special. Yet such negligence of the holiness around us is to cut ourselves off from the presence of God in the sacredness of the present moment. Our lives, as ordinary as they may be, are the very places where God chooses to dwells with us. The tasks of the day, no matter how mundane or trivial, are able to be the means of God's grace, places where we enter into life with the Holy Spirit.
When it comes to living a spirituality of ordinary moments, the Celtic tradition has a unique take on this. Believing that we are able to remember God's presence in the most trivial of places, Celtic tradition advocates a ritualization of ordinary places. By surrounding the tedious moments of life with a prayer or blessing, the moment is thereby transformed into a place of divine intimacy. Take, for example, 'The Blessing for the Receiving of Phone Calls;
Here is a child of God,
image of the Father,
redeemed by the Son,
invited by the Spirit,
I welcome this person,
with the heart of Christ.
(For those on eastern and western shores, you may wish to look at 'A Celtic Blessing for the Harvesting of Seaweed.')
What would it look like if we saw the ordinary things of life as places whereby we are invited into a deep connection with the Spirit? What if we saw every phone call as a Spirit-led conversation, every interruption as an insertion of divine agenda, every trivial matter as a place where we are able to breathe deep the presence of God? Would some of our frustrations end? Would irritability and short fuses decrease? Would we be more accepting of the things around us, or even ourselves?
Our faith is lived in the real, tangible, and often ordinary moments of our lives. The ordinary places of life are not untouched by the presence of God. In fact it is in the present moment where we abide with Christ, where we feel his love and grace, where we are led by the Spirit, where we receive mercy and forgiveness. Denying the holiness of the present moment is to deny the very reality of our life with God. In his famous book "The Sacrament of the Present Moment,' Jean-Pierre de Cassaude writes 'What treasures of grace lie concealed in these moments filled, apparently, by the most ordinary events. That which is visible might happen to anyone, but the invisible, discerned b y faith, is no less than God operating very great things."
The language of the present moment being a 'sacrament' is intriguing. It reminds us to look beyond the surface frustrations to what may truly be occurring in our lives. We peer past what our eyes see and attempt to interact with the deep things of life from the place of faith, the place where true life resides. What is more, there is excitement here, writes de Cassaude. He writes 'If we could lift the veil, and if we were attentive and watchful God would continually reveal Himself to us, and we should see his divine action in everything that happened to us, and rejoice in it. At each successive occurrence we should exclaim, "It is The Lord!" and we should accept every fresh circumstance as a gift from God.' Imagine seeing every moment as a place where we bump into our Risen Lord.
Yet is that not the life that we are called in to?
Each moment of life bares the opportunity for divine nearness. The present moment is sacred because in it we uncover the freedom of knowing that we are called to be no other person than who we are here and now. The present moment tells us that we are called to no other place then where God has placed us in this instant. Why strive to control, to manage, to direct, when there is a deeper reality at work. Yes the present moment may be ordinary, even dull. Yet it is a place filled with God's holy presence, and in that there are multitudinous possibilities.