I have been reading a lot of science fiction novels lately. Novels like Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” or Ursula Lequins “The Left hand of Darkness”. Novels that explore deep philosophical principles of war, the human condition, and even religion in settings of apocalyptic futures or alien planets. This week I started a new book “A canticle for Leibowitz”. This is a story of a post apocalyptic future where little of humanity survives a terrible war. Yet a place that does survive is a monastery in the Utah desert. The book tracks over a thousand years of this little monastery becoming a haven of the artifacts and science from before the war. The christian monks of the far future go on to determine artifacts as simple as a handwritten grocery list to be holy relics.
This kind of thinking about God and religion throughout sci-fi[ has posed many questions for me. What is the future of the church? What ways have the traditions of faith in the past affected or even boxed in the idea of God I have now?
Personally, I have met God in spaces ranging from the gorgeous desert cliffs of New Mexico, the heavy stone cathedrals of Spain, the flowing business of the city, to the personal and intense work of caregiving I do with my placement L’arche. God to me has never felt boxed into the walls of the church, yet I see within myself a boxing in of god into the extraordinary. It can sometimes be difficult to see God’s presence in the mundane and the routine of daily life.
I have been slowly learning throughout this year to allow God to become a part of that mundane routine. The greatest teachers of this in my life are the individuals I share time with at L’Arche. I get to participate in supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities in everything from the mundane routine of brushing teeth in the morning to the fun outings like going to an opening day game of the Nationals. I have seen a greater appreciation of what day in day out routine can be. I have been taught time and time again by the L’Arche community how God mediates the mundane. It is a passionate act of care to share the boring moments of life with my friends there who often have the uncanny talent of turning the boring into the unexpected. Like Johnny who will break into prayer in the busiest of moments and will remind all around that god surrounds the stress. Or Michael who has mastered finding the beauty in routine and who has been going to Mcdonalds for coffee almost everyday for the past 40 years.
This process of learning to see god in my day to day life has given me a different perspective on what it means for a grocery list to be a holy relic. Yes in the book it is likely a poke at the truly troubled development of the church and religion, but it has become a metaphor for me. What box am I putting god into? Why can’t a grocery list be a holy relic? Why can’t the holy be the simple? Today, I hope and encourage you all to join me in this journey of seeking out and seeing God’s presence every day.
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