This morning, we delved into the masterpiece of Psalm 139. It wonderfully explores the interconnectedness between God, humanity, and creation. Everything is sacred, not because we deem it so, but because God makes it so. Our role is to uncover this inherent sacredness imbued by Christ and reveal it, bringing light and life to all corners of creation. Sacredness isn't confined to places of worship, altar vessels, or priestly actions. Through its connection with God and creation, the mundane is equally, if not more, sacred.
Let's dive deeper into the sacredness of the ordinary thought the eyes of an artist, the vision of the spiritual master and the poetic imagery of the psalmist.
Eyes for the Sacredness in Everyday Life: Observing the World
After church, I usually head to my local café and ponder the morning’s sermon over a cup of coffee (and bacon). Today, two young people settled at the table next to mine. I couldn't help but notice their quiet comfort in each other's company. They seemed content simply watching the world pass by, much like I enjoy doing – observing the plants scattered around the café, the hustle of the brilliant staff, and the steady flow of people grabbing their takeaway coffees. Were they siblings? A young couple on a date? My curiosity got the better of me.
“You enjoy watching the world go by,” I remarked to the young woman.
“I like observe." she responded. "I'm an artist.”
Now it made sense.
Artists possess a remarkable and distinct perspective that sets them apart as extraordinary observers and interpreters of the world. Their ability to perceive and reveal the sacred in the mundane places them in a unique position within the tapestry of human experience. For many of us, recognising the divine in everyday life is a journey that requires years of contemplative practice, mindfulness, and spiritual exploration. However, artists have a natural inclination to see beyond the surface, to delve into the deeper meanings and essences that lie hidden in plain sight. Their mediums – be it pencil, oil, gouache, or digital pixels – become tools not just for creation but for revelation. Through their art, they communicate truths and insights about the world that often escape the conventional eye. They have the gift of translating the ordinary into the extraordinary, bringing to light the overlooked beauty and sacredness present in our daily surroundings.
This ability of artists to transcend the physical and touch upon something deeper is more than just a skill; it's a form of spiritual expression. When an artist creates, they do more than capture the physical likeness of a subject. They imbue their work with the essence of the subject, often revealing a profound interconnectedness of all creation. In this process, the subject, whether it be an object, landscape, or person, becomes more than a mere image – it becomes a conduit of the sacred. The artist, in their creative process, forms a bond with the subject, one that is filled with understanding, appreciation, and love. This relationship between the artist and their subject is a microcosm of the broader interconnectedness that binds all of creation. Through their work, artists invite us to see the world not just as a collection of separate entities but as a harmonious whole, where every element is interwoven with a sacred thread. Their art becomes a window through which we can view the world in its true, sacred splendour, reminding us of the deep connections that bind us to everything around us.
Fearfully and wonderfully made: The wonder of God in creation.
Psalm 139 beautifully highlights the sacredness found in all creation, reminding us that God's deep knowledge and presence touch everything. The opening verse, "O Lord, you have searched me and known me" (v.1), tells us that everything, not just people, is special and sacred because God knows it so intimately. This sacred touch of God isn’t just for people; it extends to every part of creation, big and small. When the psalmist says, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (v.14), it's a call for us to see and respect the sacred in every living thing and every part of nature.
Also, the psalm shows us that God is everywhere – "Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?" (v.7). This means every place and moment, whether it's a church or just an ordinary spot, has God's presence. It's a reminder that the sacred isn't just in religious places but all around us in our everyday lives.
Towards the end, Psalm 139 makes us think about the sacred in things we can't easily see or understand. It suggests that even the hidden or mysterious parts of the world are important to God. This idea encourages us to think deeply and respectfully about the world, to look for the sacred in surprising places and in our day-to-day activities. By understanding this, we're encouraged to take care of the world around us, honoring the divine presence in every part of our lives. Psalm 139 challenges us to broaden our view of what's sacred, finding the divine not just in religious practices, but in the ordinary, in each moment, and in every aspect of the world.
Richard Rohr’s vision of sacredness: The universal Christ
Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar known for his inclusive Christian theology, offers insightful perspectives that beautifully complement the themes of Psalm 139, especially through his concept of the Universal Christ. Rohr’s teachings can deeply enrich our understanding of the sacredness inherent in all creation, a notion echoed in the psalm.
The Universal Christ in All Creation:
In his seminal work, "The Universal Christ," Rohr expands on the idea that Christ is not merely a historical figure but a cosmic reality, embodying the presence of God in every element of the universe. This aligns seamlessly with the message of Psalm 139, which depicts a God intimately involved in the intricacies of the world. Rohr emphasises that Christ is not just found in human form or in Christian contexts but is a dynamic, living presence that permeates all of creation. He suggests that recognising the Universal Christ in everything is key to understanding the true expansive nature of God’s incarnation.
For Rohr, everything is a manifestation of the divine because the Christ presence resides in all things. This view challenges conventional religious boundaries, inviting believers to see the sacred where they might not have looked before. Just as Psalm 139 acknowledges the omnipresence and omniscience of God, Rohr encourages us to find Christ, and thus the sacred, in all aspects of life – from the natural world to our daily interactions. This perspective fosters a deeper appreciation and respect for the environment, for diverse cultures and beliefs, and for the myriad expressions of life.
The Implications of Embracing the Universal Christ: Embracing Rohr's concept of the Universal Christ can transform how we interact with the world. It calls for radical inclusivity and a profound sense of stewardship towards the earth and all its inhabitants. Recognising the Christ in every person and in all creation leads to a more compassionate and equitable way of living. It's a call to action to address issues such as social injustice, environmental degradation, and any form of exclusion, recognising that in harming any part of creation, we harm the Christ within.
Incorporating Richard Rohr’s teachings on the Universal Christ into our understanding of Psalm 139 invites a transformative way of engaging with our faith. It encourages a spirituality that sees the divine in every element of creation, inspiring awe, reverence, and a deep sense of interconnectedness with the entire cosmos. This approach not only aligns with progressive Christian values but also offers a practical pathway for living out these values in our everyday lives.
Same vision: different language
The Psalmist’s Language of Scripture: The psalmist uses the poetic language of scripture to convey the omnipresence and omniscience of God. In Psalm 139, the sacred is found in the intimate knowledge that God has of the individual and, by extension, all creation. This sacredness is not limited to grand, heavenly realms but is deeply embedded in the intricacies of daily life. The psalmist's words invite us to perceive the world as a canvas of divine artistry, where every detail, from our innermost thoughts to the vastness of the universe, is saturated with God's presence.
Rohr’s Theological Discourse: Richard Rohr, through his theological discourse, expands this vision. He articulates the concept of the Universal Christ, which suggests that Christ's presence permeates all of creation, sanctifying the ordinary. Rohr’s language is one of inclusive and expansive spirituality, where the sacred is not just found in the ecclesiastical or the explicitly holy, but in every element of the cosmos. This viewpoint challenges us to broaden our spiritual horisons and to see the divine in places and moments we might typically overlook.
The Artist’s Visual and Sensory Expression: Artists, through their visual and sensory mediums, reveal the sacred in the mundane in a more tangible manner. Through their work, be it a painting, sculpture, or digital creation, they capture and communicate the essence of their subjects, often unveiling beauty and significance where others see only the ordinary. The artist’s language is one of colour, form, texture, and composition, which transcends verbal communication and directly engages with the viewer’s senses and emotions.
In essence, while the psalmist, Rohr, and the artist employ different languages - scriptural, theological, and visual respectively - their goal is harmoniously aligned. They guide us to recognise and appreciate the sacred in the everyday, encouraging us to live with a heightened sense of awareness and reverence for the divine intricately woven into the fabric of our daily lives. Through their distinct lenses, they collectively reveal a world where the mundane is imbued with an extraordinary sacredness, inviting us into a deeper, more meaningful engagement with the world around us.
Engaging with the Sacred in Everyday Life
Practical Implications of Recognising Everyday Sacredness Recognising the sacredness in everyday life has profound implications for how we live. It calls us to respect and cherish not just the grand and the glorious but also the small, the mundane, and the overlooked. This perspective fosters a deeper connection with our environment, our communities, and ourselves. It invites us to live with a sense of wonder and reverence, seeing the divine fingerprint in every moment, every interaction, and every aspect of the natural world.
Questions for Personal Reflection and Exploration
How can recognising the sacredness in everyday life change your daily interactions and decisions?
In what ways can you incorporate a practice of mindfulness or contemplation to become more aware of the divine in the mundane?
Reflect on a recent moment where you found beauty or meaning in an ordinary experience. How did this affect your perception of the world around you?
How can the principles of Psalm 139 and the concept of the Universal Christ inform your approach to environmental stewardship and social justice?
A Journey Towards Everyday Sacredness In this journey of uncovering the sacred in the everyday, we are invited to transform our understanding of the world. Through the wisdom of Psalm 139, the teachings of Richard Rohr, and the vision of artists, we learn to see the divine in all aspects of life. This realisation is more than an intellectual exercise; it's a call to live in a way that honors and reveals the sacredness that God has placed in every corner of our existence. As we embrace this perspective, our daily routines become opportunities for spiritual discovery and connection. We learn to approach life with a sense of reverence and awe, recognising that every moment is an encounter with the divine. This path of everyday sacredness is not only enriching on a personal level but also has the potential to bring about a more compassionate, mindful, and just world.dfgdfg