When Do We Worship?
Many of us do not think we spend much time paying attention to worship these days. We are busy getting things done, talking to people, living our lives. There is barely enough time for us to think at all, much less think about worshipping.
Those of us who do think about it may see it as part of our job. We probably spend more time thinking about it than actually doing it.
If we ever do think about it we assume it happens at a specific time in a particular place. We go somewhere to worship. When we leave we believe we have done our duty for another week, or longer.
It is something we do once a week, if that often. We go to a certain place and act a certain way. Some of us wear special clothes. We hear special words and music we do not experience any other times during the week. There are things we do during worship we never do at any other time.
What is it? Why do we do it? How will we worship this week?
Dictionaries tell we worship when we experience or show reverence and adoration for a person or object we regard as sacred.
I know people who have a worship experience on a weekend whether they realize it or not. They dress in liturgical clothes and gather together to share a special meal. Some of them get together in large arenas, while others worship via computers or television.
They feel and show their reverence and adoration for their favorite teams.
Their experiences may be particularly intense, and they express them as strongly as people attending a religious service.
How Do We Worship?
We do not only worship football teams. Some of us worship a fine meal or an amazing travel experience. There are people who worship their dogs or cats.
Some of us follow rituals to worship physical health or financial security. We may worship celebrities or ideas, or anything else we hold to be sacred.
There are people who tell me I worship my iPhone and my laptop. The fact they have icons and they convert and save things makes them sound sacred. Some of my apps might be more sacred than others.
We do spend quite a bit of time bowing down before them seeking insight and connection.
I do not believe I regard my devices as sacred. They can, though, be used for sacred purposes. I will spend part of my day worshipping electronically.
Some people assume we worship only when we go to a particular place during an organized service. They believe worshipping includes following designated rituals, acting in specified ways, and using certain language.
I experience worship differently. We each show reverence for the Sacred in our own ways. Our experience of reverence may take place in nature, at the beach, or in the mountains. Tall trees can draw us into adoration for the Sacred.
For many of us, the Pandemic and being quarantined changed the way we experience and understand worship.
We worship as we take time to pay attention, to listen to the Sacred. Sometimes we take time as we walk, while we sit, or when we stand still. We may lie on the ground and look up at the night sky. Words are not required for us. We can dress any way we like.
Where Will We Worship Today?
One significant challenge to how we worship is our unwillingness to give ourselves time.
We see our lives as busy, filled with responsibilities and expectations. There are so many tasks we expect ourselves to complete, so many things to do. We spend our days running from one thing to the next until we collapse exhausted at the end of the day, or the end of the week.
Worship seems like such an inconvenient practice, demanding we attain a certain frame of mind. Where can we go to find worship today?
As our understanding of worship grows deeper we begin to recognize we are already practicing it. We chase people and objects, offering our attention and adoration.
Our practice is not a matter of forcing ourselves into new ways of living or thinking. We have already begun to recognize we spend time worshipping each day.
Developing our practice is a matter of sorting out who and what we hold as sacred. We are not so much beginning to worship as we are focusing our reverence and adoration. What do we actually experience as sacred? Where do we find the sacred in our everyday lives?
We begin to practice by setting time each day to pause and remember what is sacred.
What Will We Worship Today?
We have a choice. As we practice we find a clearer picture of what is sacred to us. Rather than worshipping whatever presents itself to us, we begin to take responsibility and take time to choose for ourselves.
It may be easy for us to see ourselves as tossed around at the mercy of winds and waves. We feel we are being pushed around by the circumstances and situations of our lives.
The fact is we are choosing what we hold as sacred each day. It will take time and struggle for us to appreciate what is sacred in our lives. We have lived so long without recognizing the Sacred and we need to spend some time working on it.
The time we spend contemplating what is sacred to us today will help us tomorrow and the day after.
As we take time to listen and become open we begin seeing things differently. The Sacred is all around us and within us, drawing us into relationship.
How we worship is primarily outside our control. We need to stop to open ourselves to the sacred truths all around us and within us. Spiritual life fills us with worship.
Where will we begin to worship today?
How will what we worship be different this week from what it was last week?
[Image by bsabarnowl]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.