Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today's Tears

This morning, I was moved to tears by the prayer and benediction at the inauguration of our 44th President. This evening as my husband and I were reading mondegreens, I laughed so hard I couldn't hold still, and the tears were again tickling the corners of my eyes.

Experiencing the spectrum of emotion is a workout for the soul. Every pore opens and breathes. Blood tingles as it makes it course.

I remember a conversation I had with my parents a long time ago in which we talked about emotions. I hadn't had these parents very long (I didn't acquire them until I was eleven), and I'd somehow gotten the idea that it was wrong to be emotional. Even at eleven, I had learned to deny and push down my feelings, and to keep them in hiding. "Being 'emotional' doesn't have to be a bad thing," said my Dad. "It just means you are having feelings, and expressing them."

Much of our church traditions have balked at emotion. Churches have been mystified, bewildered, and afraid of feelings. Somewhere we got the idea that it is wrong to feel things. In certain circles, at certain times, in certain denominations, emotion has been accepted: but if you go outside their parameters, you may be labeled "out of control."

Sometime after that conversation with my new parents, I was given the book I Love the Word Impossible, by Ann Kiemel. She wrote that Jesus laughed with her, cried with her. I was in awe. Would I ever feel that free, to laugh, and cry, and be close to Jesus?

Well, yes.

But it would take some years of practice.

And that's fine. Practicing emotion is not a problem: there are always new chances to feel.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Profound Ordinariness

I've been waiting for something profound to happen in my spiritual life, so I would have something profound to say here.

News flash. Our spiritual lives are not made up of profound moments, but ordinary ones. This is why I say "ordinary things will save us." I must remember that the Divine Presence is with me when I'm typing an email or pilfering chocolate chips from my baking drawer (meant for cookies!) or washing the water pitcher - that is when I'm closest to God. I must recognize that being human is what I'm here for - and it's temporary, and I might as well enjoy it with my Creator.

I like how this was expressed in the book, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, by Jack Kornfield. He explains that breakthrough spiritual experiences are wonderful - but they are not what make us strong, spiritual people. Dazzling encounters seem to be the ultimate thing. But inevitably, these experiences are followed by the drudgery of chores, earning a living, paying bills. Kornfield says you can take any reknown spiritual leader and plunk him or her down in the U.S. with a mortgage and a family and then, suddenly he or she wouldn't be so guru-like. This is the greatest challenge: to deal with the pressures of what you and I deal with every day. Living well in the ordinary is what will make or break us.

What's God doing with me today? Loving me just the way I am, and sorting laundry.