I’m going to go back to what I love during this Lenten Season…taking photos and highlighting the beauty in the everyday, the sacredness of all that is around us, and in doing so, finding God in his creation.
I’ll be using Diana Butler Bass’ Grounded: Forty Day Devotional as a guide. I hope you’ll join me on this 40 day journey back to Immanuel, God with us.
Day 1: “We are animated dirt. Soil and life joined. From living ground we were made; to living ground we will return.” (Grounded, p. 42)
“Western culture, especially Western Christianity, has imprinted a certain theological template upon the spiritual imagination: God exists far off from the world and does humankind a favor when choosing to draw close. Sermons declared that God’s holiness was foreign to us and sin separated us from God. Yes, humanity was made in God’s image, but we had so messed things up in the Garden of Eden that any trace of God was obscured, if not destroyed. Whether conservative or liberal, most American churches teach some form of the idea that God exists in holy isolation, untouched by the messiness of creation, and that we, God’s children, are morally and spiritually filthy, bereft of all goodness, utterly unworthy to stand before the Divine Presence. In its crudest form, the role of religion (whether through revivals, priesthood, ritual, story, sacraments, personal conversion, or morality) is to act as a holy elevator between God above and those muddling around down below in the world.” Grounded – Diana Butler Bass
This has been my experience, God sitting far away on a throne I wasn’t worthy to approach. Guilt being thrown from the pulpit like rotten tomatoes at a bad stage act. I was in church for a lot of years before I ever heard that God actually loved me, and subsequent hurt at the hands of the church pushed me away from that love and back into the arms of guilt and shame.
Eventually, I began to notice the sacred in the ordinary. The beauty in the everyday. God’s fingerprints were there to be found when I took the time to see them. The Immanuel of Christmas was the same God with me in every ordinary moment of every single day.
I think it’s fitting that the very thing I came from is the very place I find God when I need him the most. He is muddling around down here with me. That certainly is not as glamorous as the picture I was painted of God early on, one of holy isolation, untouched by the messiness of creation, by my messiness, but it most definitely reaches me in a way that one never has.
He’s not always bold and loud. Not always obvious. There are times he is so subtle, so quiet, that I easily miss him. I have to silence the noise of my life, the distractions of this world; social media, politics, busyness, apathy, and my own self righteousness in regard to all of these. I need to remain present in the moment. In the gift of today, to notice the extraordinary in the ordinary moments. I need to daily remind myself that I am worthy of this gift simply because he loves me. And rest in the fact that his love has no conditions.
That’s what this next 40 days will be about for me. Noticing and accepting the gift of Immanuel. I hope it is for you as well.
“God, with profound gratitude, I remember that you created humankind
from the dirt, by breathing on the clay and giving life.
May this Lent be one of thankful remembrance of connection
with the earth and your call to care for all creation.” Diana Butler Bass