Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Discovering Altars in the World

I am writing this blog post on the brink of a new beginning:  My family and I have bought a new home and are relocating to a new community. Though only 30 minutes away, the move will take my children to a new school, and open our lives to new neighbors and friends.  This change also means that the Living Stones Women's Ministry will be moving to a new location in July.  We will also be beginning a new book study.  Please read my introduction to our new book below, along with my invitation for you to consider joining us.  You can read more about the Living Stones Women's Ministry group by visiting the "At-a-Glance" tab at the top of the blog.
In her introduction to An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, Barbara Brown Taylor recalls a priest who invited her to speak to the congregation of his church in Alabama. "Come tell us what is saving your life now," he suggested.  No formal teachings required. No orthodox creeds and ideologies expected. No ancient rituals to follow. Just an honest look at what gives meaning, feeling, connection, and life right now.

For Taylor, her answer now is not exactly the same as her answer during that speaking event.  But she continues to hold to the truth that the life of the spirit is inextricably linked to our physical experience in this world.  We find God here on earth, where we are, in what we are doing.

We may see God and draw closer to Him while on a pilgrimage, a mission trip, or a retreat. But these extra-ordinary experiences are not required.  We can, in fact, find God right here in even the most ordinary everyday activities.

What if we stop drawing such sharp distinctions between secular and sacred, physical and spiritual, body and soul? What if we start remembering that the whole world is the House of God? What if we don't have to choose between God and the world, but instead can experience the world as a place to encounter God?

"The treasure we seek," Taylor writes, "requires no lengthy expedition, no expensive equipment, no superior aptitude or special company. All we lack is the willingness to imagine that we already have everything we need. The only thing missing is our consent to be where we are." If we miss the "X" marking the spot of what we are looking for, she writes, it might be because we are standing right on top of it!

Taylor dedicates her book to people who are "tired of arguing about religion, tired of reading about spirituality, tired of talk-talk-talking about things that matter without doing a single thing that matters yourself." She wants to help us realize that there are altars all over this world... ordinary places where we meet up with God.  She offers us practices that require both our bodies and our souls, practices that will help us explore the idea that faith is a way of life.

"Earth is so thick with divine possibility," Taylor writes, "that it is a wonder we can walk anywhere without cracking our shins on altars."  I have found an altar in Springfield, in my family room, sitting around with an amazing group of women who seek to know and love their God better and more, who seek to support others through prayer and service.  I am now off to discover an altar in Berwyn, in a new family room, with some of the same amazing women, and hopefully new seekers, lovers, and pray-ers.

Come find an altar in the world with me!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...