ISSUES OF FAITH: The spirituality of the ordinary

I LOVE TRAVELING and having extraordinary adventures.

This is because experiencing other cultures and places gives me a sense of awe, wonder and transcendence — a spiritual “high,” so to speak.

But what does that say about the ordinary?

Where does that leave the every day?

How can we possibly feel spiritually “high” when travel is limited by pandemic-related restrictions?

The late, great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once challenged people everywhere to cherish the ordinary, the here and now, and the every day.

He wrote that it only takes three things to feel spiritually awake and alive:

“God,

A Soul,

and a Moment.

And the three are always here.”

Yes, the three are always here — even as we often forget or ignore them.

Discovering the spirituality of the ordinary begins by not taking things for granted.

The “ordinary” is already luminous. God and the sacred are not “over there” somewhere.

They are all right here, where we are.

Perhaps a silver lining of the coronavirus is that it’s providing us all with an opportunity to get back to the ordinary, the breath by breath, and the living in each moment more fully —and seeing the sacred wonder therein.

Persian poet ‘Attar once wrote us that:

“Every breath

each breath

of your life

is a precious jewel.”

Cherishing each aspect of the ordinary is a spiritual practice upheld in almost all of the world religions.

This is because doing so always brings us back to gratitude for the miracle of life.

So how do we nurture a spirituality of the ordinary?

How do we halt the practice of mindlessly stumbling over everyday miracles?

Here are some concrete steps you can take:

When outdoors, attend to the sounds, smells and sights that surround you.

Take in the stars, the clouds, the new growth on a tree, the birdsong, the smell of the mountains or sea.

Before beginning a meal, stop to light a candle and/or share some meaningful words or a prayer to acknowledge your good fortune for having food to eat.

When in traffic, on public transport, or out and about on the streets, recognize the divine spark in every other person in the same space.

Before entering a difficult conversation, stop and hold the others involved in prayer, wishing for their well-being as well as your own.

Every day when you awaken, think: “Today I am fortunate to be alive. I have a precious human life and I’m not going to waste it. God is here. My soul is here. This day is here. I am going to savor every moment.”

The pandemic-related restrictions will eventually lift.

We will be able to travel again and be wowed by the extraordinary.

In the meantime, let us use this time to locate the immanence of the sacred in and around us.

Here. And now.

________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Kate Lore is a minister at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend. Her email is katelore@gmail.com.

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