Can Holiness Invade Your Office and Your Kitchen? Part 2

[If you’re here at this Blog for the first time, click back and read Part 1 of this topic:  “Can Holiness Invade Your Office and Your Kitchen?”  It will fill out this post more meaningfully.]

As I noted in my last blog post (see “Can Holiness Invade Your Office and Your Kitchen?  Part 1”), Dr. Susan Smalley, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA, talks about the importance of developing a pervasive spirituality, where the sacred is seen and experienced as inherent to daily life.  She has discovered that this kind of spirituality has great impact on minimizing individual self-centeredness and increasing a deeper sense of personal well-being and compassion for others.

I love the way Brian McLaren, in his book Finding Our Way Again, describes the process of developing a pervasive spirituality.  He says that rather than simply trying so hard to practice our faith (which ends up only adding to our already over-filled To Do lists), we could be “Faithing our practices” – “embuing our normal [everyday] practices with meaning derived from faith.” It’s about learning how to see Holiness in every part of our ordinary days.

The Jews do this with what they call “the blessing.”  By giving a blessing for everything they encounter during the day, they are reminded of the sacredness of all of life because a Blessing isn’t something that embues what is being blessed with goodness or God’s presence.  A blessing is simply a tangible, intentional act of acknowledging the inherent Sacredness and Goodness in those things as gifts from God.  “The purpose of the ancient way and the ancient practices is not to make us more religious.  It is to make us more alive to God … alive to [God’s whole world].” (McLaren)

The Hebrews in scripture also built altars of remembrances out of stones at places where they encountered the Sacred and Divine in meaningful ways.  Why put ordinary rocks on top of each other on the side of busy thoroughfares and even in out of the way places?  The point was that every time they saw them they could be reminded of God’s activity in their lives.  They could tell each other the story of their encounter with God and remember that life is sacred and blessed.  Stone altars to help holiness pervade ordinary life.

I wear a ring that has a cross on it on the middle finger of my right hand.  It was a gift from my wife.  It’s there as a constant reminder of my calling and life purpose.  Throughout the day, I’ll feel it and look down and notice the cross and remember:  I am loved; I have a divine purpose; my life is a calling to live for God.  It’s amazing how that thought, generated by a tangible symbol, suddenly transforms that moment into a sacred moment, a divine encounter, an embracing of God’s continuing and pervasive presence in my life.

Last Saturday, at my Second Wind spiritual community, in the middle of our discussion on this topic, we engaged in what is called prayerwalking.  We all went outside and individually walked around the neighborhood community with the goal of  intentionally noticing what captured our attention.  We were to do several things:  1) What did we notice?   2) Offer a blessing on it.  3) Consider how it reflected God to us?  How was the Sacred revealed to us through it?  And 4) pause and be in the moment.  Then when we all returned to the room, we tried to capture our experience by jotting thoughts/reflections on paper, staying silent, staying in that Sacred Space.

When we debriefed the experience, it was astounding how much all of us described paying attention to life around us in new and meaningful ways.  There was a sense of sacredness we expressed feeling as we each walked around the blocks in such an intentional frame of mind.  The activity reminded us how something as simple as walking around with a different intention (an open, more “enlightened,” purposeful mind) could contribute to a more meaningful spiritual experience and a greater receptiveness to life around us.  When you begin seeing all of life as sacred and spiritual, you look at it all very differently.

What symbols, reminders, tangible ways do you have to remember the Sacred and the Divine all through your day?  How are you decompartmentalizing your spirituality so that all of life is experienced as holy and sacred and thus more meaningful and purposeful?

I love the way Carrie Newcomer describes this in one of her songs, “Holy As A Day Is Spent”:

holy is the dish and the drain
the soap and sink, and the cup and plate
and the warm wool socks, and the cold white tile
showerheads and good dry towels
and frying eggs sound like psalms
with bits of salt measured in my palm
it’s all a part of a sacrament
as holy as a day is spent

holy is the busy street
and cars that boom with passion’s beat
and the check out girl, counting change
and the hands that shook my hands today
and hymns of geese fly overhead
and spread their wings like their parents did
blessed by the dog, that runs in her sleep
to chase some wild and elusive thing
holy is the familiar room
and quiet moments in the afternoon
and folding sheets like folding hands
to pray as only laundry can
i’m letting go of all my fear
like autumn leaves made of earth and air
for the summer came and the summer went
as holy as a day is spent

holy is the place i stand
to give whatever small good i can
and the empty page, and the open book
redemption everywhere i look
unknowingly we slow our pace
in the shade of unexpected grace
and with grateful smiles and sad lament
as holy as a day is spent

and morning light sings “providence”
as holy as a day is spent

Perhaps every day life could be filled with a deeper sense of well-being and meaning if we intentionally saw the holiness in all of it?  Maybe we could close the HPI (Happy Planet Index) gap here in the States if we allowed our spirituality to pervade all of life, including our offices, our kitchens, and even the baby’s play pen?  Want to join me in experimenting with this?

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