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.