The Holy Matter of Ordinary Moments

One of my favorite signs was at the exit to a church parking lot:

Church Starts Here.

You could swap out church for temple, mosque, synagogue, meditation, art making, poetry writing - anything that connects us to a larger sense of ourselves.

We can compartmentalize that into Sundays in the pews, 30 minutes on the meditation cushion, sculpture class, yoga class, Shabbat service, morning write.

But those defined moments are where we get the tools to be the people we want to be. Tools which are meaningless until we put them to work.

And the work is in the world.

It’s seeing the grocery store clerk with the same attention and care that we see in figure drawing class.

Responding to an email from a relative who frustrates us to no end with the compassion the Buddha and the Torah speak of.

Making choices about a sticky business issue that reflect the ethics of Quaker meeting or the poetry we write and read.

Holding ourselves with the same respect, poise, grace at the DMV as we do in Hatha yoga on Tuesday nights.

And when we fall short, as we are bound to do, doing as the the Sufi mystics, the Gospels, and the wise teachers instruct, and not judging ourselves.

Ordinary moments are holy matter. Our charge is not to get lulled into the sedation of daily life. To de-compartmentalize ourselves and let the wisdom of contemplative prayer, sangha, whatever brings us into the fullest understanding of ourselves spill out and flood our lives.

So that when we leave our church - whatever form that takes - we know that the work starts here.

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