Purpose, mk. I

Call it a sacramental worldview. Call it awake senses. Call it creation spirituality.

I want it.

I grew up in a theological tradition where it was understood that God is active in sustaining the world he created, and this active participation means we can witness him at work, and join him in that work. But I’ve always had a hard time seeing him. Growing up, when I saw a tree it was just a tree, not a sign and herald of the kingdom.

As my faith and understanding grew, and as I read more of scripture, I began to know more about God, but my senses still remained dull to his intimate company. Romans 12:1-2 became my mantra:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The more I thought I understood this passage, the more I understood it to mean that I had to ascetically slay my body that I might renew my mind and offer truly spiritual worship. I became increasingly dualistic in my thinking: my “flesh” is evil and depraved, marked by the curse, and my soul is trapped inside, waiting impatiently for its release at the end of all things.

And then I went to college and saw my dualism as a product of Greek philosophical structures imposed on Christianity since its inception in the Hellenized Roman empire, and sought ways to integrate my body and my spirit as I pursued God and spiritual growth. I longed to experience God more fully, more closely, in this skin. I came to seminary, and discovered that the Bible is begging me to open my eyes, unstopper my ears, and “taste and see that the Lord is good!

So I am working on it. I picked up watercolor painting a couple years ago, and I’m beginning to dabble in poetry, both in order to better hone my senses so I can more easily discover God’s presence in a spring tree, his providence in the summer sun, his steadfast love in the blazing autumn leaves, his sabbath in a serene winter snowfall. I invite you to join me through this blog.

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