Monday, October 26, 2009

An Altar in the World: Reverence

I've just begun reading Barbara Brown Taylor's An Altar in the World, a book about various incarnational spiritual practices. This morning I read a chapter about Reverence, in which she describes lying on her back on the deck at her childhood home and watching falling stars. For a few moments, as I sat there sipping my coffee at The Good Cup, I was transported to the lake at Westminster Woods Camp in rural Kansas. I worked there one summer as a camp counselor, and on the few evenings when there were no campers at the camp (and actually a few times when there were), the camp staff would gather late at night by the lake to lie on our backs and watch for shooting stars. The camp was so remote that there was no ambient light to interfere with star gazing. I've never been anywhere since then where so many stars were visible.

BBT writes, "Reverence stands in awe of something--something that dwarfs the self, that allows human beings to sense the full extent of our limits--so that we can begin to see one another more reverently as well." Lying by that lake in rural Kansas gave me the opportunity to experience reverence...reverence for a cosmos that is beyond comprehension, reverence for a God who set the stars in the heavens, reverence for those beautiful souls who joined me by that lake...

I'm not sure I spent much time experience reverence these days. Later in the chapter, BBT points out that we don't really have time (or make time) for such experiences. I find that to be true in my life. I'm hoping to take some time for reverence in the coming weeks as leaves change and temperatures drop.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If I won the lottery...

Last Sunday, the always inquisitive Lucy King (3rd grader at my church) asked me what I would do of if I won the lottery. I told her I would pay off all of my debts, move to a cool neighborhood in Nashville, endow some scholarships, give a lot of money to charities, and definitely quit my job and explore mission opportunities in some random part of the world. She was very upset that I would ever consider leaving Harpeth, but that's not the point of this story.

Lucy went on to say that she would probably buy a PSP, a lot of games, maybe some new clothes and then she would give, "oh, about $500 to the church." I then asked her if she would give any money to other worthy causes, to which she replied, "You know, I think I'd buy toys for homeless children" and then proceeded to walk off with a thoughtful look on her face.

Today, as I was driving to work, I decided to amend my answer. Now it would include an endowment for my local NPR station so that as long as I'm alive, I never have to listen to another 10 days of pledge campaigns. Seriously, I would make it so I never have to hear any more encouragements to donate money on NPR. I often wonder how much local news I'm missing while they tell me how great NPR is for giving me the news and "unique programming."

So, what would you do if you won the lottery?