Lenten Reflection Eight – A Reinchanted World
In Western culture we take for granted the separation of the material world from the spiritual world. It’s nearly subconscious, engrained in how a secular society views reality. But at times something breaks through this dichotomy. At Lourdes, it’s water from a spring. God’s presence becomes connected to a common element, needed every day for life. It might be experienced at baptism, or when wading into a clear flowing stream with a fly rod. Natural water becomes infused with a sacred presence. We thirst for such living water, and that is the pathway to the earth’s preservation.
Question: Where have you experienced “thin spaces”?
Destroying Modern Myths
On pilgrimages, our encounters with the natural world frequently become supernatural. When we celebrate sacraments, common elements, like bread, wine, water, or oil, take on a holy quality. On a pilgrimage, spirituality becomes embodied through our encounters with the concrete stuff of creation as all of life becomes sacramental.
“I can’t pretend to say anything, with any certainty, about the effects of water, or dirt, or tracing stone at a grotto, or putting an arm around a statue over an apostle’s grave, or taking shoes off on holy ground. But I know this. These experiences, and so many more opened up on pilgrimages, explode the myth of a world rationally comprehensible, comprising inert matter and mobilized molecules in diverse forms. I’m willing to wonder about the myths undergirding pilgrim stories and practices. It’s the myths of modernity and rationality that need to be destroyed.” (Without Oars, p. 127)
Exercise: Set off on a walk without a destination. Go where you feel led. Pay particular attention to the parts of creation you encounter—a tree by the side of the street, a butterfly, grass under your feet, rocks on the path, wind in your face, rain on your hat, the sky, a beetle…Be present, and let your thoughts wonder about what you see, or touch, or sense, or hear, or feel. Write and share.