Everyday Spirituality: Returning To Our Senses

 

Christine Sine’s Rocks

This post is part of an ongoing series on Everyday Spirituality. Today’s post is by Christine Sine, author, blogger, and executive director of Mustard Seed Associates. Her other books include To Garden with God and GodSpace. Her new book, Return to Our Senses will be released November 20th but is now available for pre-order. All proceeds from the book will go toward the work of Mustard Seed Associates.

A couple of years ago on my blog, I asked: What makes you feel close to God? Dozens of people responded with concrete illustrations about how they connect to God in everyday life. They talked about playing with kids, turning the compost pile, washing the dishes and walking in the local park. Even taking a shower got a mention. Their reflections became the blog series What Is A Spiritual Practice?  Two things surprised me. First, no one mentioned church or Bible study. Second, most people come closest to God in tangible everyday activities yet rarely identify these as spiritual practices or forms of prayer.

These observations started me on a journey to rediscover the nature and purpose of prayer. Starting with Madame Guyon’s assertion that prayer is an exercise in love, I started to discover prayer not as an activity I engage in but a relationship I enter into. My journey has opened windows into the loving nature of God far beyond my imaginings. It has exposed me to prayer traditions I never knew existed. It has encouraged me to create my own new and fresh expressions of prayer. It has also brought me together with a growing number of people who search for a more vital prayer life.

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Everyday Spirituality: Sacraments and Piano Lessons

Part of an ongoing series on Everyday Spirituality, this is a guest post by Linda Peacore. Linda and I were classmates at Fuller Theological Seminary in the early 1990s. She went on to get a PhD in theology from King’s College, London, and she now resides in Pasadena and teaches at Fuller. I recommend her book, The Role of Women’s Experience in Feminist Theologies of Atonement, which I wrote about here.

If you’d like to write a post for this series, please contact me through my website.

Tony’s recent posts on “Everyday Spirituality” very much resonate with my Christian life. As a mother of two school-aged children and a part-time professor of theology, spiritual disciplines take on a particular shape in the routines of parenting and work. Reflecting on this kind of everyday spirituality got me wondering about sacraments specifically, and how they might look in an ordinary life of someone like me.

In the church, we speak of sacraments, which primarily refer to baptism and the Lord’s Supper, two important practices which signify God’s grace in our lives and in the Christian community. They are the traditional ecclesial acts that represent God’s promises and mark God’s people. Sacraments serve as vehicles by means of which we confirm our participation in the grace God offers us through Christ and consequently in the fellowship of the covenant people. And through them we confess our faith; they are enacted pictures or symbols of God’s grace in Christ.

While baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the principal sacraments of the Christian church, we also speak of sacraments in a more general way, and this is where I find connections to everyday spirituality. Sacramentality is the idea that God uses all kinds of physical objects, experiences, and actions as a means of extending grace to us.

In my teaching on this subject I often use a clip from the film Babette’s Feast to illustrate this concept. The film culminates in an actual feast that Babette prepares and which could be considered a sacrament of grace as it brings reconciliation and celebration to the community. We might also say that Babette herself is a sacrament as her talents are a gift of grace to those around her. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the people are transformed as a result of the meal and the person of Babette. What might our lives be like if we were attentive to these sacramental experiences, these moments when God’s grace is presented to us as a mysterious and lovely gift?

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Everyday Spirituality: Gardening

photo collage by Courtney Perry (all rights reserved)

Part of an ongoing series on Everyday Spirituality.

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:8-9

As you’ve seen in previous posts, I dramatically expanded my garden this year. The biblical narrative begins in a garden, and Jesus’ journey nears its end in a garden. These are things I rarely think about when I’m in my garden every day. I’m more wont to consider this quote from Albert Einstein:

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Everyday Spirituality: Cloudy Water

 

photo courtesy of Imaginationsis

Part of an ongoing series on Everyday Spirituality, this is a guest post by Hans Gustafson. Hans currently serves as the assistant director of the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, a joint academic center at Saint John’s University (Collegeville, MN) and the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN), where he also teaches on an adjunct basis in the theology departments.  He will be defending his dissertation in Philosophy of Religion and Theology from Claremont Graduate University (CA) in the next month or two.

If you’d like to write a post for this series, please contact me through my website.

I write here about a particular “everyday spirituality” that seeks to foster a “spirituality of the everyday.”  While the former emphasizes the lived religious experience of God-attuned daily rhythms, the latter reflects on experiencing God in the seemingly mundane.

The rhythm of the robust North American continental seasons of Minnesota ties one to the land.  For instance, it dictates when I plant hops in the spring, harvest them in the fall, brew in the winter, and drink thereafter.  For many, I suspect, this seasonal ritual plays out on their stovetop (given the offerings of local agriculture) or their tending to their yard or their interaction with the community (e.g., coaching little league).

The seasons of life (meteorological, religious, communal, etc.) foster in me the opportunity to be present and pay attention to God’s presence in all things (what I refer to as pansacramentality).   However, lately I’ve learned that these rhythms also provide more than the mere opportunity to recognize God’s presence in ways I’ve done in the past, but they also beckon me to connect to the past in new ways.

Thus beyond fostering the everyday spiritual practice of “being present” and “paying attention to God in the world,” I also now attempt to tap into the reality of the past that reverberates in the present.  This includes, of course, celebrating and participating in past spiritual rituals (e.g. fishing, harvesting, religious holidays, traditional meals, etc.), but it also includes the painful events of the past that may or may not have been a part of my life experience.  This practice is very much connected to place (not necessarily space).

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