Monday, March 02, 2009

In the Details

Our Lenten journey this year is gathering round Martha Grace Reese's Unbinding Your Heart. The first day of the 40 days of spiritual practice and prayer invites you to read Psalm 139 -- O, Lord you have searched me and known me. The psalmists feels God's presence everywhere, from dawn to dusk, from highest heaven to the pits of Sheol.
One imagines that Mies van der Rohe understood God this way. "God is in the details," the architect famously said.
Such a God does not, it would seem to me, much care how we practice our spirituality. Being all present, it would seem to be a question of our presence to God much more so than God's presence to us.
So, the question for 40 days of intentional drawing of one's self into relation with God is, what opens you to that presence.
It was with such lofty thoughts that I stepped across the room to pick up a Bible to read Psalm 139 ... and stepped squarely into a pile of dog vomit. Seems that the chocolate birthday cake that the dog got into this afternoon did not sit well!
So I'm left to contemplate the details in which one finds God. Even in the pit of Sheol?
I have been there, and, indeed, felt the presence of the spirit of shalom. So a little mess to clean up ... or several ... is nothing. In fact, perhaps this was just another reminder from the canines that dog is in the details, too.
The spiritual life is not for the faint of heart.
Indeed, as our preaching together at Clarendon during Lent is stressing, Christianity is, or ought to be, an embodied faith. It is grounded in the earthiness of early Judaism. The gospel stories -- especially the synoptics -- are full of stories that include eating, healing, touching, listening and seeing. The texts we read together yesterday -- Luke's account of feeding the five thousand and the Numbers story of manna in the wilderness -- are all about food and the ridiculous abundance of God's economy.
While just now I am wishing that my dog's had not experienced ridiculous abundance this afternoon, even in these messy details I can detect ... well, perhaps divine laughter.

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