Often times in the church, we think of spiritual disciplines as a practice which we can qualify as holy action. Practices like praying, reading scripture, doing works of charity and the like are often the prescriptions for spiritual growth.
But Barbara Brown Taylor in her book, Altar in the World (which we at Washington Plaza along with our friends at Martin Luther King Christian will be studying together this fall), speaks of how we find God in the most ordinary of circumstances. Altars she writes can be anywhere we encounter the holy. It’s a discipline for all of us to simply pay attention.
This week, while on travel in Kenya and Malawi, I have a new altar to add to my list and that is international travel.
As many of you know who have traveled throughout the developing world, nothing ever moves as fast as it does in the United States or even Europe. Not that it is bad (I happen to like the change) but it is simply different.
Bags get lost easily on flights.
Traffic jams on narrow roads make getting from one place to another a chore.
You look for something you need and can’t find it.
Water that was once warm becomes stone cold.
The electricity goes out for no apparent reason.
And it is just life.
In these circumstances as a non native you have a choice. You can get angry. You can grow in misery of why things aren’t the way you wish they were.
Or you can go with the flow. You can embrace the moment. And you can accept the challenge as a spiritual discipline.
What might God be saying to me about who is ultimately in control?
What might be learned about enjoying the company for the journey instead of being so consumed in reaching the destination?
What might I really need instead of just want for my personal comfort?
I am having fun this week in these out of the norm circumstances, hoping that if I embrace them I might just learn more about myself and God’s ways of being with us in the process.