Sunday, May 20, 2007

No one said the Spiritual Journey was easy...

Trinity @ 7 Sermon for May 20, 2007

No one said the Spiritual Journey was easy…

“Now is the time to know that all you do is sacred.”

What would it mean for us in our lives, right now, if we took this snippet of wisdom for Truth. Actual truth. Our truth. Right. Now.

I have moments, mundane, every day moments when I understand this – I get it on some gut level that’s not always easy to put into words, though I’m going to try.

I was cleaning the bathtub the other morning before work, in preparation because I had house guests coming. Now, this is something that I do periodically anyway, cleaning the bathtub, but it struck me then in particular as something sacred. Maybe it was because I was doing this chore at an odd time for me – before work – I was particularly mindful. Maybe it was because I was doing it as part of my preparation for seeing a dear friend who lives far away – I was doing it out of love. Maybe it was because, taken out of the context of cleaning the entire bathroom, this one little chore doesn’t take too long – there was no suffering involved. It is almost as if in that moment I took all the negativity out of the activity – I was being mindful, I was doing it in love, and I was not suffering – the moment I took all of my negative associations out of such a mundane chore as cleaning the bathtub, suddenly it was set free, and without any extra help from me, it revealed itself as sacred.

Now, cleaning the bathtub is a small thing. The actual quote reads: “Now is the time to know that all you do is sacred.” “All you do,” as Hafiz is talking about, is slightly larger – but if you’ve never tried this before, or tried without great measures of success in the past, I encourage you today, tomorrow, and next Tuesday to start small. Start with the bathtub, or something similar. And then, all you have to do are these two things, and then the sacredness of the action has space enough to reveal itself to you:

1 – Keep your mind focused on what you’re doing. This is simple, but not incredibly easy if you’re not used to it. We keep our minds focused on what is going on in the moment, because it is what is occurring in the moment that is sacred. Try not to dream or worry about what is going to happen five minutes or five hours from now. Try not to reminisce or be caught in the emotion of what occurred three minutes or three hours ago. Just be where you are. So Thing One is to keep your mind focused on what you’re doing.

2 – Let go of all your negativity. This is simple as well, but not incredibly easy if you’re not used to it. For example, as a rule we carry around so much negativity that we’ve become totally unaware of how much there is, until we start really looking. Some say that we’ve been desensitized to the negativity around us, but that is a misleading statement. We are desensitized, to the extent that we have become on some levels numb and unaware, but on other levels, less perceptible and yet fully operable ones, we are still fully sensitive to negativity, and it affects us deeply, but unconsciously.

To get rid of negativity, we need to first name it. Acknowledge that it exists and then seek to know why it is there. Does it serve some useful function? If it does, consider how something positive could replace it. And then, let it go. Breathe it out of your body – if it tries to come back in, gently breathe it out again and follow it with a statement of love – be caring and gentle to yourself while you do this – don’t let this become one more opportunity to beat up on yourself for not being perfect. Treat yourself with love and compassion. This is Thing Number Two: let go of your negativity.

And all of this is for us to get to the place where we can encounter the sacred in what we do, in all that we do. Whether or not we do this, all we do is sacred – but that is a hard precept to understand or acknowledge if we haven’t experienced it ourselves. But we can! We can experience everything we do as sacred, because it is.

“Now is the time to understand that all your ideas of right and wrong were just a child’s training wheels to be laid aside when you can finally live with veracity and love.”

What if we, as adults, contemplated the prospect that we might be ready, we might be emotionally mature enough, spiritually mature enough – or we may be fast approaching that point – when we can lay aside the training wheel concepts of “right” and “wrong” because we are able to live lives embracing Truth and Love.

This would revolutionize the way we settle disputes, to be certain.

How many wars have been fought because participants on both sides were absolutely certain that they were right and the others were wrong? How many arguments are there, between lovers, between friends because each of us know, with a knowing that is not going to change, that we are right, and the other person is wrong?

What if being right mattered slightly less than being loving? What if seeking out wrong mattered slightly less than seeking out truth?

Could we find ourselves forgiving more often?

Could we find ourselves offending less often?

Would the simple knowledge that we would be met with love change our actions for the better in a way that a threat of punishment fails utterly?

It’s a heavy thought to consider, because if we find ourselves thinking, “yes, yes that might be,” then there is an automatic assumption that we ought to change our lives accordingly – live this way, even though the rest of the world is slow to change, slow to realize the truth, slow to enact love. There are implications for our own lives.

But then, no one said the Spiritual Journey was easy. Simple, yes. Easy, no.

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