God Breaks In

I’m not sure why but today’s reflection posted by Richard Rohr seemed like something worth sharing.

“We are told that Jesus hung out with publicans, tax collectors, and sinners. Perhaps during these sessions of music, laughter, and food fellowship, there were also . . . moments when the love of God and mutual care and concern became the focus of their time together. Contemplation is not confined to designated and institutional sacred spaces. God breaks into nightclubs and Billie Holiday’s sultry torch songs; God tap dances with Bill Robinson and Savion Glover. And when Coltrane blew his horn, the angels paused to consider.

Some sacred spaces bear none of the expected characteristics. The fact that we prefer stained glass windows, pomp and circumstance . . . has nothing to do with the sacred. It may seem as if the mysteries of divine-human reunion erupt in our lives when, in fact, the otherness of spiritual abiding is integral to human interiority. On occasion, we turn our attention to this abiding presence and are startled. But it was always there.”

Perhaps it was the use of the word erupt that took my mind to the people of Hawaii, but I started to think about how even amidst the disasters of life…God breaks in…another way of saying that the sacred is always there.  My heart goes out to all those Hawaiians faced with recent volcanic eruptions and perhaps more to come.  I’m not trying to make light of the situation.    Living in the middle of the North American plate, I seldom feel the earth shake.  The only roar I hear is the thunderstorm and maybe once in a lifetime, a tornado.  The power of the earth experienced as an earth quake, volcano, or tsunami is almost beyond my imagining.  I’m beginning to understand why people of the Hawaiian Islands made sacrifices to appease the God’s when the volcanoes erupted.

The photo of the plants covered with lava in Michelle’s last post seemed poignant to me somehow.   It reminded me that nature is tenacious.  No matter what events surround us; we pick up the pieces and move on.  Perhaps it’s harder to see the other side, when dark smoke fills our view.  But eventually the lava turns to soil and plants will thrive in its mineral richness.  Perhaps this is why prayers and sacrifices are given, to remind us that the sacred is still there.  To hope that we can find the courage and strength to face loss and adversity.

My prayers to everyone in Hawaii for their safety and speedy recovery.

9 Replies to “God Breaks In”

  1. Amen.

    As tangential to the immediacy of the large catastrophic losses incurred by an eruption, an enormous quake, cyclone, hurricane, or a tsunami I would also bring to mind the less deadly or perhaps less “cinematic” difficulties brought by ash clouds, wildfire, tornado, monsoon and lightning strike. These secondary or perhaps slightly less enthralling events still stand in the way of our everyday enjoyment of the world.

    Here in the central US (I’m just several hours east of Jody) the livestock will typically signal impending serious weather. Cattle on pasture are quite interesting in this regard. But thunderstorm or blizzard, their food supply is not damaged. I can’t fathom a range or pasture covered in ash. What does a cow do with that? What does a rancher do with that?

  2. Shucks Clem, that makes us almost neighbors! Are you in Ohio? It would be fun to meet sometime.
    I agree, there are many ripple affects of catastrophic weather events.
    I’ve been working out-of-doors for so long I’m getting pretty good at reading the weather from sky. And, yes, those old broken bones tend to ache when the barometric pressure drops. My mother called me a “storm baby”. She said the louder the thunder crashed or wind howled the better I sleep. I still love the sound of storms, as long as all my loved ones are safe!

    1. Nearly neighbors indeed. Just outside Columbus. Originally from Illinois (SW, near St Louis), then Nebraska for nearly a dozen years… In Hendricks CO Indiana for a couple, and then the rest here in OH. A bit of a Midwestern nomad like yourself. One of my nieces is currently studying there at Purdue.

      Working outdoors is the best. I sometimes feel sorry for those chained to a cubicle to earn their daily bread. A lot of my summer work is out on the wide open prairie – where a storm has a hard time sneaking up on you. Telling time by the position of the sun in the sky is fun too… though with all the cell phones about now it’s a skill hard to justify.

  3. “…another way of saying that the sacred is always there”. I like the way you put that Jody.

    For whatever reason I can’t compute the idea of “God” but am strongly drawn to the notion of sacredness, which for me and I think in some of the world’s cultures isn’t necessarily predicated on an omniscient deity. The sacred, for me, is something that originates ultimately within the eye of the beholder, ie take us out of the picture and the concept no longer has any significance – so I’d understand Rohr’s “God breaks in” as saying we carry within us that capacity to feel fellowship and ecstasy, and to be caring and appreciative, and to find courage and strength when that’s what we need.

    Thanks for another stimulating post, and thoughts and best wishes from Wales to your readers on the Big Island at this alarming time.

    1. I agree Chris that “God” as a human figure is rather limited and doesn’t cover the vast territory of what we can experience as sacred. I wonder if this obsession may equate with the idea that humans are the highest form of evolution, or some such inflated idea of our importance in the universe. How does one begin to relate to what is sacred or divine? If some see that image as a person perhaps that’s what it takes to see the divine within themselves. For me I like the words “God is love” or the Hindu concept that we feel God centered in our heart. For me love is the bond that unites us and makes us one with all things, which seems an appropriate ideation of what something sacred in the world, would be all about.

  4. I do associate the word “God” with a superhuman-ish, distinctly Old Testament kind of character, but I’m glad if it doesn’t have to be that way. God is love – I’d buy that!

    Just thinking about how very, very differently people may “hear” the same word: some daft kids played me the Yanny/Laurel thing on the intertubes (easy to find) yesterday. Similar to that gold dress/blue dress thing a couple of years ago. A single sound file but half of us listening to it hear one word, and half of us hear a totally different word. And both sides 100% certain…

  5. Chris,
    Yes I heard about the yanny/laurel sound track. Someone told me that reason we hear different sounds is because as we age our ear bones gets calcified (along with all our other joints) and we can no longer pick up higher frequencies. We really do hear sound differently! But, yes, I agree that we often get caught up in thinking our way of hearing or seeing or feeling or….whatever is right. Loss of flexibility in neuroplasticity is part of the problem. I’ve read that traveling to a new country, meeting people from new cultures, or any opportunity to expose our mind to new things is a good way to keep our brain more flexible.

  6. Thank you for your kind thoughts for my fellow islanders, Jody. Yes, this is an eruption of the sacred as much as anything else. Not exactly an eruption of love – something much wilder but sacred none the less.

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