A Sacramental View

August 16, 2008

I’ve been pondering lately how I view the world, through what lens do I see it? I love mythopoeic and imaginative literature and the “joy, joy, as poignant as grief” that I experience when I enter into a certain type of story or hear certain music or see something remarkable in creation. However, here I am, in my rather mundane life of cooking meals, hanging laundry, playing with my children, cleaning my house, walking the dog. And much of my life is based on science, reason, “Enlightenment” thinking. How do I reconcile the two viewpoints? Or do I need to? The things that seem the most Real and Important to me are hard to describe or explain. A friend suggested to me that the integrating principle I need to focus on is Sacrament. Embrace the notion that material things can convey spiritual reality. A book I’m currently re-reading emphasizes this as well. Christian Mythmakers by my old college professor, Rolland Hein, examines myth-making authors Bunyan, George MacDonald, CS Lewis, Tolkein, Charles Williams, and modern day authors including Madeline L’Engle and Walter Wangerin. (It’s an excellent book which I highly recommend. I’m re-reading slowly to savor and digest it!)

I love George MacDonald. His fairy-tales and fantasy stories do much to evoke that mythic experience for me. His portrayal of “terrible goodness” and the symbols he used in his stories are rich and powerful for communicating truth to my mind and soul. He had a very Sacramental view of the world. He spoke of the Reality without – all things may convey grace and truth to the observer, and the the longing within the human heart, and how the maturing believer always strives to bring them together.

I want to bring them together. I want my days, mundane though they may seem, to be infused with a mindfulness of God’s presence in all I see.   My prayer recently is that God would give me eyes to really see Him in the things of this world. He did give us the ultimate example of this in the Incarnation, the Word becoming flesh. And Jesus instituted it in Communion – “do this in remembrence of me” He instructed his followers.  Somehow, mysteriously, the Bread and Wine are His body and blood when we partake of them.  “Therefore, let us keep the feast!” we exclaim in the Episcopal service.  Christ knew we needed to have tangible reminders in worship to connect to spiritual reality.  Can I do this when I wash dishes or feel the breeze as I hang my laundry out to dry? Can I do that when I see the faces of my children, not only when they are well-behaved and lovely, but when they are pouting or having a tantrum?  I’m far from seeing all things in my life Sacramentally.  But I want to.  Because I know that viewing the physical world with this lens will reinforce that joy, longing, delight and sense of mystery that I love to feel when I read mythic stories.   It’s the stuff that is “really real” to me.

And today a song on my iPod reminded me of this same viewpoint.

Astonishingly, the song is an old one of Amy Grant’s. It was on a CD I bought in college that featured a bunch of Christian singers. It’s called “Lover of My Soul” and the lyrics moved me as I listened and vacuumed the stairs today:

When I see the winter turning into spring
It speaks to this heart of mine More than anything
Underneath a blanket of snow, cold and white,
Something is stirring in the still of the night.
And then the Sun comes up, slowly with the dawn
This is the kind of feeling that I hang my hope upon.
There is a love and beauty in all that I see
And no one, nobody is explaining You to me

And maybe my eyes can’t see
But You are surrounding me
Here in the wind and rain
The things that I know
Tender and sweet
And strong as my need
I know the voice.
I know the touch,
Lover of my soul.

I’m new to this blogging world, and this seems long and confusing and rambling, even to me.  I want to get my jumbled thoughts out of my head and make sense of them with words, and I guess this is a start to this process.  I will struggle on to work it out, and record more insights and musings on this topic if they ever occur to me….


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