Thursday, February 03, 2005

Sacred Life

I've read about what I'll term Sacred Life, but this week it seems more important. There are firm parts of me that won't feel like I've accomplished anything unless I accomplish something unreasonable big. But even then, I think there will be doubts.

Last week, I preached from Hebrews 12, Fix your eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. It struck me that so much of life irritates me. Some days I call Heavy Gravity days. It feels like gravity has increased a notch or two. Nothing will stay on a table. If I bump something, it is guaranteed to fall to the ground.

Yesterday, my task was to clean the house. It is a self-appointed task, but my wife is working full-time during the day, and it makes sense that I can at least keep the house straight while I am at home with our son. But sometimes I dread it. I get irritated as I pick up each piece, thinking "Why didn't someone pick this up?" "Why did someone leave this out?" "Why didn't someone clean out this bowl?" "Why are these socks wadded up?" On and on. I hate to vaccuum. I don't know why. I hate cleaning toilets. I do know why.

It struck me that it needed to be a sacred task. I needed to stop feeling like cleaning is a waste of time, when I could be out working my BHAG (Big Hairy Audatious Goals). Cleaning needed to be sacred time.

I humbled my heart. As I cleaned, I tried to figure out what was sacred about each task. This was just an attempt. I'm sure it will change if I can maintain the discipline.

I picked up my Winebrenner coffee mug to put it away, and as I did, I prayed for my friend Lance -- for his well-being, for his relationships, for fruit for his efforts. As I wiped it off, I prayed that excess would be wiped from Lance's life, leaving him safe and dry. As I vaccumed, I prayed for different people who had need of a deep cleaning.

The honest part is that by 4PM I was exhausted. Crabbiness flowed out of me the rest of the evening. But I'm ready to start another sacred day, not complex and BHAG but simple and reverent. The first thing I did this morning was kiss my wife on the back of the neck as she got ready. I did it because she is precious to me. When I got in the shower, I asked that this would be more than an outer cleansing. I changed my son's diaper with a sense of sacredness, cleansing not only his bottom but hopefully a bit of his soul.

Len Sweet wrote about this in Soul Salsa, his most personal book, where he has tried to live a Sacred Life. It also makes me think of Henri Nouen, who left "the ministry" to care for a mentally and physically challenged boy the rest of his life. It was sacred work, but not that anyone else would think so.

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