I’m sitting here, hands folded under my chin, not sure where to start.
Knowing that if we were in person, we probably wouldn’t start with words at all. We’d start with nods and smiles at each other.
For what seems like the 500th time in reading An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor, the practice of carrying water is not unfamiliar to us. Which is an awkward way of saying, “Girl, we KNOW.” You know what it’s like, right? When a group of cross-cultural workers get together and the stories start flowing.
Remember when we didn’t have running water for four days?
Or that time I had to kill two mice stuck on sticky paper before I could go to the bathroom?
Or how about when my husband’s vasectomy at the local hospital didn’t work?
Or when I bought apples for the first time by myself?
Remember when we were asked to do THIS or THAT? And how much longer it took? And how I thought I might hit that person?
We know how to carry water. Oh yes we do. What we might need to work on is not trying to out-do each other in the water we’ve carried. How is it sharing stories can turn into one-upmanship both quickly and insidiously?
Paradoxically, we don’t honor the water we’ve carried for the holy work it is.
“If all life is holy, then anything that sustains life has holy dimensions too. The difference between washing windows and resting in God can be a simple decision: choose the work, and it becomes your spiritual practice. Spraying vinegar and water on the panes, you baptize the glass. Rubbing away the film, repent ye of your sins. Polishing the glass, you let in the light. No task is too menial to serve as a path. If you are able to sustain other lives along with your own, then all the better.”
Life is breathed into the very heart of my life, of our lives. I loved her phrase “divine CPR.” What if we were able to see all of the water we carry as holy water? The fact that I can only buy as much as I can carry can now also remind me of the Psalms of ascent. I lift my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from?
I wonder if it would be a stretch to tie in this week’s theme. Almost in the sense of, “You better rejoice or else. Do you know how many people are supporting you? Do you know how many people would be glad if they had X, Y, or Z?” But that’s not the message of the gospel? Is it? Christ didn’t come so that we could trudge through life doing good things for him. Will there be some trudging times? Sure.
But he came that we might have life! Part of having life is carrying water. Offering up our daily lives as holy works. Not with an eye to competition with one another, but connection with Him who came to give life to us earthlings :).
What’s one of your daily tasks that can be turned into a spiritual practice? I’d love to hear your creative ideas!
Over to you :). What thoughts stirred in you as you read, underlined, and starred? Any points you disagree with? You know my mantra, disagreements welcome too! This book is a place to start the discussion, not to end it.
Amy, a fellow water carrying dust-creature
P.S. Next week we’ll looking at the Practice of Feeling Pain
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