Thursday, September 26, 2013

 Grace and Grit

         I sometimes hear people talk about spiritual experience as if it something that only takes place in the lofty ether-sphere. It certainly does happen there. We have 'mountain top' experiences - those times and places when we are transported by the Divine and know ourselves to be one with ALL. We are overcome with compassion. We feel deeply connected, deeply loved and deeply loving.

        Those times feed us,empower us and expose us to our sacred identity. We come to know not only the truth of who we are, but who we can be. Who we aspire to be. 

        Then the demands of twenty-first century life fracture our attention. Time becomes our most precious commodity. Living in the now, in each present moment is a godly challenge.

        The experience of deep connection happens when we are completely rooted in the present moment. Our focus, our thoughts, our bodies, our breaths are all now. Those  transcendent moments are difficult to sustain. So we long for them. Sometimes we even try to manufacture them. And often we carry about this niggling doubt that if we cannot sustain those moments then we are not truly spiritual.

        But there is another aspect of authentic, deep relationship with the Divine. We have stories about this other way of being deeply, spiritually engaged. In fact most of the stories in the Judeo-Christian tradition are stories of dynamic engagement with Godde. 

        We have gobs of stories about people who feel inadequate, who worry, who sulk and get angry, who wrestle with Godde all night and are walking wounded.    We have stories of laughter and grief, of people encountering Godde while farming, baking bread, threshing wheat, herding sheep. Or while trying to get away from one horror only to encounter another. We have stories of people taking great risks, sometimes succeeding and often failing miserably. And we have lots of stories about people who are sick and struggling to make ends meet or privileged and afraid of losing that privilege.  

        Our stories remind us that living a life engaged with the Sacred is not an other worldly experience.  We experience Godde within our very selves and between us and among us. Godde is not a separate reality. Godde is everywhere and ever present.

        Most of us don't recognize our encounters with Godde unless it is the 'mountain top' variety. But Godde is here. In the grit of life. The sweaty, stinky, achy, risky, scared, not-knowing places. If we wrestle with Godde all night and wake with an emotional or physical limp - now that is real intimacy. 

        Those messy, difficult places open us to profound, sacred experience. We only need to name it. 
        When we are angry with Godde or cannot make sense of injustice or disease or hunger or fear. Or hurt. Or despair. Godde enters. Not as a 'feel good' experience but as deeply present in all places and all times. It doesn't get any more spiritual than that.