Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 5 - The Cup as My Teacher

"The Celtic approach to God opens up a world in which nothing is too common to be exalted and nothing is so exalted that it cannot be made common. ~ Esther de Waal

I have loved the images and, now that Joyce has brought it to my attention, the simplicity of Celtic prayers and worship liturgy. I have heard some argue that the Celts worship everything, especially things of nature. Celtic scholar Oliver Davies, writing in his book, Celtic Christianity in Early Medieval Wales, explains the Celtic reverence for nature this way:
“Far from worshiping stones and rivers…the early Celts…were acknowledging the life force as it is manifested in these and other phenomena.”
Joyce says, "...our life with God is so simple. Beginning where the Celtic tradition began, with the common and the ordinary, makes for a much healthier approach to spiritual growth."(Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 35)

I am certainly not saying the picture above is ordinary, yet for the Celts, they immediately see God where some might snap away a picture and God would never enter their mind.  I had an experience similar to that many years ago. Our family had gone to Turkey Run State Park and were traveling Trail 3 with my 80+ y.o. Grandpa Breneman. I had been through those ravines hundreds of times and had always appreciated their beauty, but that day I was given another lens. Standing in the midst of nature my Grandfather whispered, "I can almost imagine the hand of God moving through here, creating such beauty."

I was stunned and looked around me with new eyes. Since that moment, I have never been able to walk through a woods, along a ravine or ocean without hearing Grandpa's whispered reminder in my heart. Before, I had looked around me and maybe in some corner of my mind linked God and nature. Thinking of God as creating, and imagining his hand carefully touching crevices and rocks had thought entered my mind.

I had walked through the ravines of Turkey Run since I was a child. While they were not ordinary, I had grown accustomed to seeing them. Just as it took the eyes of an elderly man to "wake me up", Joyce nudges me to seeing my cup in a new way.
"...for the cup is very ordinary and very much a part of the common events of the day. Like the spiritual gifts of my life, I often use my cup without ever considering its beauty or noticing how it serves my needs for refreshment." (Ibid)

Joyce is nudging me to be open to more than just an appreciation of a cup as my teacher on this Monday morning.
"I used to keep my spiritual life in a tight space and felt that my work, my social life, my relational joys and struggles actually kept me away from God rather than teaching me and being sources of personal transformation for me...I have come to believe that every part of my life affects or influences my life with God." (Rupp, p 36)

I am sure, like me, some of you have felt a sense of dismay and loss...vulnerability...while watching the scenes coming to us from Japan. Yesterday I was reminded of the tension within PC(USA) and the upcoming votes around amendments from GA. Yesterday a mother of two young children called to share with me that she has an aggressive form of breast cancer. I listened for three hours to her very real fears and concerns.  Coming home I felt tired, defeated, sad, a bit overwhelmed... Not once did I think, "All is well, God is in this."
"The world I live in, with its beauty and tragedy, with its creatures of all forms and shapes, is constantly offering me messages about who I am and who God is. Everything and everyone teaches me about God, life, and myself." (Ibid)
My life is not a loose set of balls I must juggle or many individual candles I must keep lit...each part is connected to the "who" of me.  And, within me resides God, just as within all of life...resides God.
"I try now to approach each person, event, creature, with two questions: How are you my teacher? What am I meant to learn." (Ibid)
Earlier this morning, one of my Sisters of Spirit wrote that she had just seen a mouse scurry across her kitchen floor. She wasn't sure what she was to learn from that mouse, she didn't want to think about it since she had to get kids dressed and get herself to work!

I smiled and thought, "I wouldn't see anything in that mouse except MANY traps needed to be set NOW!"  That was before I read Joyce's Day 5 thoughts.

I REALLY dislike a mouse in my home!!! They remind me I am not in control, or else they would never have found their way into my house! My life is often violated by things I don't like.  Tragedies that claim many innocent lives, disagreements and tension within my denomination that I affect me and people I care about all the way down to the cornfields of Shelby Co., mothers of young children who face unimaginable fears....and within all this, Joyce tells me I can have an awareness or a consciousness of God's loving presence.
"The most ordinary of our days contains the power and the splendor of spiritual awareness. It is up to us to pay attention, to be present to the here and now, in order to enter more deeply into life...ALL of life is the food of our spiritual growth. We can grow closer and deeper in our relationship with God through every situation, depending on our attitude, our openness, and our awareness." (Ibid)
Then - "Be aware of God teaching you through your life today."

Breathprayer: Breathing in: O Mystery...
                        Breathing out...alive in me!

Reflection: Hold your cup in your hands. Look at it closely. What does the cup want to teach you today?...Listen..."

Journaling: When I think of the cup as my teacher, I...
                   One way in which life has been my teacher is...
                   Today I long to learn...

Today I long to learn how to be present within the "life" that will come my way during the day.  Within the joys and the sorrows. Within the moments that offer me peace and within those moments that I feel so inadequate. I long to learn how to be still when confronted with great problems, allowing God to use me as a vessel of love.  I long to learn how to be still, allowing space within my heart for Spirit to speak.

Sitting here, looking at my cup and considering it as my teacher, an old quote came to mind....

Today, when I pick up something ordinary, whether it be a cup, a pencil, a spoon.... may it stimulate my heart with a desire to be present and to be aware of God throughout my day.

It doesn't get much more ordinary
than peeling potatoes, yet, Brother
Lawrence felt close to God.
There is a story of Brother Lawrence who, after 10 years of being assigned to kitchen duty, an assignment he hated, experienced a profound inner peaceFrom that day on, No longer dreading work in the kitchen, he now felt as close to God peeling potatoes as he did kneeling at the altar.

What about some of you?

When you consider all of life as a teacher, what thoughts immediately come to mind?

What do you long to learn today?

How have Joyce's thoughts and insights given you a new lens by which to observe your day?

Creator and Sustainer, I "hear" that all of life is my teacher, and that feels uncomfortable while it also brings a sense of peace.  Spirit of Comfort and Awareness, in her prayer, Joyce asks for awareness to see, hear, touch, taste, feel, with greater awareness. Heighten my senses so that I might be attentive to your presence throughout this day, and within that growing awareness, may I trust you to lead me. Amen.

Today: I will notice something very ordinary today and learn from it.

Wow. What a day this promises to be.

Did you know that the ancient hymn "Be Thou My Vision" came from Ireland? Setting the intention of noticing something very ordinary today...basically asks that we see the world and all within it through the eyes of Christ. I thought I would share: Be Thou My Vision - Anjali Quartet

Many Blessings ~ Sandi


  1. I will notice something very ordinary today and learn from it.
    With sunshine, nothing is ordinary! Maybe I will wait for a dreary day and learn from it. No, we must learn to thrive where ever we are planted. This year more than any other, I can see and feel winter giving up its hold on our area. Many have struggled to survive the cold, snow, high gas and utility bills. I am grateful to be able to pay my bills and enjoy the world around me without pain. Now if I could banish sadness, I would be one happy camper. Guess there is always some area of our lives needing attention. For today, I will seize the day and celebrate life.

  2. Reading your comment, after my eventful ordinary day...I wondered how/where/what God is within your sadness?

    I've had great sadness before, and I admit I wasn't seeing God there...yet, if all we have considered today is true, then God is there...within the sadness!

    You have given me something to hold. Thank you.

  3. "How are you my teacher? What am I meant to learn?"
    How would these two questions alter all of my choices, outlook, relationships if I took this to heart? I need to pay attention.