God IN life, not apart from it
Wireless world, networked ministry — Part VI of a series
By Rev. Rick King
Much is changing in the institutional church today, and the pandemic sped up the change in the past year and a half. This series of columns is based on the book “The Digital Cathedral” by Rev. Keith Anderson, to expand our concept of Church beyond the bricks-and-mortar, exclusive-membership, financial and flesh-and-blood institution we’re used to, allowing God to birth the NEW reality already underway in the world.
I remember when our three kids were young, we were struggling with one income, and I was committed to developing my inner life—but the demands of work, home and family were so intense, I barely had time to get any rest, let alone much time to pray or meditate.
A friend suggested I try for five minutes of closing my eyes and quietly listening to the early morning sounds of the house while I waited for the kettle to boil, and let that be it for my spiritual practice. So I started doing this, often with a sleeping baby in my arms. It was better than nothing—a right-sized goal I could practice virtually every day—and an island of quiet contemplation before the busy day.
When we moved to Colorado, we got a guinea pig to add to our cats, fish and a hermit crab in our menagerie of animals. And at the advice of my spiritual director, I found another right-sized practice: “Guinea Pig Time.” Poseidon, our guinea pig, loved to be let out into the yard to graze in the grass. I had many evening meetings, so I flexed my schedule and most days came home for an afternoon break at 3 p.m., when my wife, Linda, was working, and put Poseidon in the front yard and sat on the bench in front of our house to wait for the kids to come home from school.
That time with Poseidon grazing, watching the cars and school children going by, and waiting to greet our kids was holy. Again, it was something I could actually DO on a regular basis—a space to notice God showing up in everyday life.
Keith Anderson shares the story of the day he was working remotely at home and watching their two kids when his wife Jenny came in the door after a doctor’s appointment and handed him the picture of the ultrasound, “…and a beer. It was only 3:00 in the afternoon. I looked at the ultrasound, and feeling like a veteran parent with two kids already, I pointed to the little peanut in the picture and I said, ‘Hey, there’s the baby.’ Then Jenny pointed to the other little peanut I had missed, and said, ‘No, there are the BABIES.’ We were having twins. And that’s when I understood why she brought me the beer.”
He says that with double the number of kids, it not only became clear that his and Jenny’s lives were never going to be the same, but also that his spiritual life was going to change, from regular silent retreats at an Episcopal monastery to feeding his spirit in other ways. “Rather than getting away from the world to find God, I would have to go more deeply INTO the world, not my everyday existence, to find that spiritual connection.”
Where do YOU find or look for God or the sacred in your everyday? Has the pandemic changed that for good or ill? How can the church help you attend to that presence, and nurture your spiritual life? I’d love to hear from you!