My morning happened in themes.
I woke up this morning, already feeling gross and sweaty from the impending 92-degree forecast for today. I pulled myself out of bed, turned on our ceiling fans, and pressed the "on" button to our living room window air conditioning unit. (Which sent the cat scurrying away. She's not much one for noises.) Our apartment is small, but even with two window air conditioning units, it's anybody's guess if we'll come home to a cool apartment or not later tonight.
So the dreaded thought came to me: I'd better clean out Emme's litter box and finish the dishes before I left for church, because a small apartment plus a 92-degree day equals lots of stinkiness if we don't stay on top of the smellier parts of things. (Ahhh...aren't you glad for these rousing insights on my life?)
So I reloaded the dishwasher and finished washing the pots and pans. I scrubbed the countertops (hey, I was on a roll!), emptied the trash, and even remembered to move our fruit bowl off of the kitchen table (and out of the blazing line of sunlight). Then into the study, giving our crazy cat a new fresh litter box and hauling a smelly trash bag to the front door.
Cleaning the apartment, even in these minor ways made me feel good. It will be nice to come home to it tonight. But let me be very clear about something: NOTHING about either of those cleaning tasks made me think of church, of God, or of anything remotely spiritual.
I arrived at church, grumbling as I walked in about how it was 10:00 a.m. and already so warm and humid that my car had trouble picking up its usual radio stations.
When I got to my office, I grabbed my water bottle and headed to the kitchen to fill it up. I decided, on a wise whim, to bring along the old coffee cups that were still lingering on the table behind my desk, with coffee-stained rings around the insides. I scooped them all up and headed to the church kitchen where, for the second time this morning, I found myself scrubbing dishes. After they were all clean, and I had filled up both my water bottle and one mug of coffee, I headed into the sanctuary.
Last night, we offered a Taizé healing service here at St. Timothy, and pulled out lots of candles and icons to illumine the worship space. Part of our worship involved people lighting candles as prayers and placing them in pots of sand as a light and life-giving symbol of prayers rising up to God.
I decided it would be a good idea to start putting away all of the items we had used for worship last night. I got to the pots of sand, which was really not sand at all but gravel, and not unlike the kitty litter I encountered earlier in the morning.
As I finished cleaning up, and grabbed my water bottle and coffee cup to head back to my office, I thought about how my morning had been strangely thematic, centered around kitty litter and dirty dishes.
Remember how I said that my morning tasks at home in no way reminded me of spiritual things? That was a true statement. But the church tasks I did as I started another day of living out my calling to the ministry? The completely reminded me of home things.
And so I wonder if we sometimes get it backwards. Often, we focus on how the life of faith means finding the spiritual embodied in the mundane. And this isn't a bad thing. Certainly the life of faith is a life of reverence, where we are asked, again and again, to see God in our neighbor, in creation, in both the glamorous and smelly parts of our lives.
But what if there is yet something to the notion that the life of faith really means finding the mundane in the spiritual? What if we stopped trying to expect our daily lives to mirror what happens in worship, and what if we instead remembered that everything we do as a people of faith has its roots in the ordinary-ness of human life?
Today, church reminded me of my daily life, and it caused me to stop and think about the way that God chose to mingle both holy and mundane in the embodied Word, that is, the person of Jesus. And how would my life be different if I saw in Jesus the mundane reflected in the spiritual - the human reflected in the divine - rather than the other way around?