This morning my thoughts were drawn to all the things that we value within and for ourselves and more importantly what makes us value those things. Maybe it is because it is tuesday. Maybe it is because it is raining.
I am presently struggling with (when am I not) how western secular culture trivializes things that are sacred. And even worse, how the machine of christianity has trivialized the teachings of Christ by turning them into a well packaged commodity. The end result of both of these things has lead to the trivialization of...
I am not talking about life as in some sort of fundy rant against abortion or some soapboxy subject that people latch onto to make themselves feel superior or make trendy political platforms. I am talking about something entirely different and easily overlooked.
The sacredness of living. There is an art to it. A pilgrimage. A discipline.
The sacred holistic way of living that employs balance in all things.
And there is nothing balanced about prevailing western secular culture or consumeristic christianity. Both seem to end at the same road where over consumption, brought on by greed, or the notion of entitlement make us live in an unbalanced manner. One common factor seems to be selfishness. Living selflessly is not vogue in either culture.
But what bothers me is that the teachings that allow for holistic living have been lost in the fray. The misconception that christianity is equivalent to the teachings of Christ has caused a pendulum swing that risks throwing the baby out with the bath water...
or throwing the teachings of Christ out with the church. Many well intentioned (but misguided) believers over history took profound mystical wisdom and boiled it down into digestible bits to make it more palatable to the masses. Easy consumption may have prompted complacency which in turn justifies a lack of sacrifice and a sense of entitlement. It is just too hard to delve deep into truth-we just want the bullet points and make sure it only takes thirty minutes-thank you very much-I have stuff to do...
Life is on speedial. And so is our spirituality.
We expect it quickly, we consume it quickly. We treat life like an all you can eat buffet and wonder why we have indigestion after the mass consumption. While "good" church-going christians point their judgmental fingers at secular "heathens" they may be attending a six week course on discipleship that promises spiritual maturity lickety-split. At the same time the secular "heathens" may be pointing their fingers at the "hypocrites" as they themselves may be going down in the flames of mass consumption.
Both abide inside a mentality of instant gratification. Both trivialize the sacredness of life. Both leave it dis-functional. Both have negative ramifications that will be passed down for generations.
Deep spirituality is a lifetime pursuit and that makes it unheard of inside a fast food culture.
And so we settle.
We settle for a life that is less. And just by using those words it sounds like I am back at what may be heard as "entitlement". But no. Real life is much deeper, more sacrificial, more humbling, and therefore more beautiful.
But much more difficult.
But only so if we look through the eyes of a culture that seems to require our very soul just to fuel the pace. If instead we look as an apprentice who gains an amazing gift through the process of living each moment learning from a master, the process itself may seem more inviting. I guess for me that doesn't seem so difficult because any truly valuable thing is worth an effort. And how much effort is the living of life worth? Although I live in a disposable society that does not mean my faith is disposable. I can't escape the presence of an eternal being even when I listen to the rain.
So how do I follow in the footsteps of a being who's teachings are not accepted in a church that he came to teach? When the theme of the teaching is love while the church spends so much energy on the surface matters simply to judge, how then do I live?
I do. But maybe I have to do it within the ebb and flow of humanity which now exists outside that church. Because those teachings are still profound and should not be sacrificed because the church so often gets it wrong. The teachings speak to humanity's core. They breath life into life and protect it. If I can take the time to look past the fumblings of "christianity" and into God then there is something worthy. Connecting with the creator. Connecting with the very Source of Love. Enabling me to love. Loving god, loving my neighbor, loving myself.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Even though these words get overlooked because we have heard them over and over, I focus on them again for direction. If everyone who ever read these words spent a lifetime focusing on them and somehow strived to actually live them, how might that change the world?
Might there be hope in the next generation of god-followers? The wind is shifting and history marches on so I become hopeful in the future of faith. I become hopeful when I listen to the rain. I become hopeful at the invitation of a friend's sacred day. I become hopeful in talking with my son.
Surrounded by a culture that seems to trivialize life...
I am hopeful.