Friday, May 31, 2013

Everyday Life

an outdoor market in the town near my retreat house

Like most everyone else, I lead a remarkably ordinary, routine life. I start with some quiet time, then after breakfast, it's off to the marketplace of everyday life. My everyday marketplace is usually my desk and my computer, and then there is the grocery shopping, sometimes (begrudgingly) the gym, doing errands, watering the plants, and today I will be moving furniture around so that they can come and clean the floor tiles. I spend most of my day in the ordinary marketplace of everyday life.

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about everyday, routine life, and I wonder where God fits into it all? Somehow, I can see where God fits into my prayer time or quiet time, but most of my time is spent in the daily grind of the everyday routine, and where does God fit into that?

I am on my second reading of Christian Wiman's wonderful new book, "My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer." Yesterday, I read something he wrote in his book that really struck me:

God is not absent. He is everywhere in the world we are too dispirited to love. To feel him - to find him - does not require that we renounce all worldly possessions and enter a monastery, or give our lives over to some cause of social justice, or create some sort of sacred art, or begin spontaneously speaking in tongues. All too often the task to which we are called is simply to show a kindness to the irritating person in the cubicle next to us, or to touch the face of a spouse from whom we ourselves have been long absent, letting grace wake love from our intense, self-enclosed sleep.

What an incredible insight this provided me.  God may be in my prayers and quiet time, but more importantly, God abides and is abundantly present at the core of where I spend most of my time - in my everyday living. Only, I live in a self-enclosed sleep, and so I'm not awake to the abundant grace of everyday life.

In his book, Christian Wiman goes on to say (and this is the part that really got to me):

What I crave - and what I have known, in fugitive instants - is mystery that utterly obliterates reality by utterly inhabiting it, some ultimate insight that is still sight. 

This passage sends chills up and down my spine. Imagine -  the wildly uncontrolled, fiercely passionate Holy Presence  that cannot be contained, "utterly inhabiting" reality. Every aspect of everyday living, "utterly inhabited"  by that Divine Presence for which we have no words.

So it's off into the marketplace. The tile cleaners will soon be here. 

Today I will try to "let grace wake love from my intense, self-enclosed sleep."

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