Saturday, April 12, 2008


Enjoying the sacrament of life

I don't have a lot to say today, and I'd rather let two authors whose writings I respect speak for me. I want to say, however, that I have been thinking a bit today about how life is sacramental--how all that we experience can be full of the holy awesomeness that is God. Remember, Jeremiah said that God's mercies were new every morning, just like the morning dew. Today can be full of the sort of radical presence of God as to overwhelm us. In 1999, Ray Bradbury gave the following view of life:

"It is neither all beautiful nor all terrible, but a wash of multitudinous despairs and exhilarations about which we know nothing. Our history is so small, our experience so limited, our science so inadequate, our theologies so crammed in mere matchboxes, that we know we stand on the outer edge of a beginning and our greatest history lies before us, frightening and lovely, much darkness and much life."

This description of life sees our existence as awe inspiring and frightening, and such it is on many occasions. Storms come and blow and bluster against us, threatening to undo not only our homes, but our very lives. As Bradbury said, life can be frightening and lovely at the same time. For the child of God, however, life has a more sacramental flavor. Oh, we may not "feel" it every day, but the truth is (as the Greek Orthodox have said) Jesus' very life has in some sense sanctified the mundane daily experiences of human life. His birth sanctified the birth process, his childhood sanctified childhood, yes, even his teen years consecrated those experiences in our own lives. As Frederick Buechner said:

"[C]hurch isn’t the only place where the holy happens. Sacramental moments can occur at any moment, any place, to anybody. Watching something getting born. A high school graduation. Somebody coming to see you when you’re sick. A meal with people you love. Looking into a stranger’s eyes and finding out he’s not really a stranger. If we weren’t blind as bats, we might see that life itself is sacramental." From Wishful Thinking.

I like that last part--"if we weren't blind as bats, we might see that life itself is sacramental." Yesterday God spoke to me in a silent moment, today I seem to hear his voice in the mundane. As Paul reminds us in Romans, God's very nature and character are obvious to us in nature, but of course we must take the time to look and listen. We ignore the very evidence that surrounds us, we brush it aside and pretend it isn't there. We make that which is natural our god and wonder why it doesn't save us in our time of weakness and great need.

Today God spoke to me in the simple things of life--celebrating my wife's birthday by going to Dairy Queen, playing with the bunnies with my children, feeding my dog, petting my cat and hearing his gentle purring, watching mindless cartoons and hearing the voice of God in the laughter of my children.

God is here, and he is not silent. He speaks, sometimes in whispers, sometimes in screams, but as he speaks he changes our lives; no, that's not right, he changes us. We become a type of living embodiment of the grace of God. Our lives become (in a sense) sacramental. As Christ invades our existence, his sanctifying grace creates holy places in our simple lives. Our lives become his, and by being intertwined with him we find something beyond ourselves.

Life is sacramental and sacred. Don't take it for granted.

Enjoy the sacramental wine of your life, drink deeply from the grace of God in the everyday.

You won't be sorry.

Thanks for reading!

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