“The spiritual life, it is thought, is another kind of life than the one we experience with its cares and concerns, its responsibilities and relationships, its demands and delights… When spirituality is divorced from the everyday dimension of our lives we are like a plant uprooted from the soil. When cut off from the source of life we tend to become lifeless, joyless, and critical. Journalist H.L. Menchen took aim at this phenomenon when he said, “Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone somewhere may be happy!”… We do not give testimony to the Spirit when our spirits are glum. The enjoyment of what this world offers and the recognition of its goodness is an affirmation that God is its Essence. The denial of life’s goodness is a denial of its Godness.”
Here in the Western world, a significant dose of Puritanism seems to have crept into the minds and hearts of those who sincerely strive to live the ideals of their religious tradition. Everything from drinking to dancing to playing cards is sometimes thought to be tainted, not to mention sensuality and sexuality. That we, or someone somewhere is happy, should make us happy, but the enjoyment of life’s pleasures is not high on the list of things considered sacred.
As we move through life, we encounter many challenges, many difficulties, many heartbreaking situations that call us to dig deep in order to meet them with some semblance of grace. If we’re not careful we can begin to lose sight of the goodness and “Godness” of life and live, instead, in fear of the next hurtful occurrence, and thus miss the opportunity to savor life’s many delights.
A friend sent me an email recently that was a reminder to look for the good, the wonder, and the beauty hidden in plain sight – the little things that may not be so small afterall. His message read: “Hug your pillow. Enjoy the morning cappuccino. Listen carefully when the wind blows. Kiss a tree, Love the one you’re with – life is getting shorter every day.”
Theologian Paul Tillich coined the phrase “Ground of being” as a way of conceiving God not as a person afar off in the heavens, but as the essence of everything and everyone. ‘God’ is a word for the sacred ground, the soil, the spiritual substance at the heart of all creation. This notion of the divine invites us to enjoy life, not merely to endure it. It summons us to revel in life’s pleasures as well as to be present for the tough stuff. It calls us to sense, with our senses, the supernatural nature of nature – human and otherwise. We touch God when we are in touch with life.
Yes, life is getting shorter every day, but in every one of those days we can stumble upon the divinity of the ordinary by engaging, enjoying, relishing, and basking in life’s “cares and concerns, its responsibilities and relationships, its demands and delights.”