On Sunday, August 18, we had the delight of experiencing Lay Sunday and hearing from three of our beloved community. We thought it would be wonderful to highlight one of these reflections in this issue of the SeventhAveNews … you can, of course, hear all of them on our website.
“Spirituality through Perspective”
Good morning. The topic of today’s reflection is how our faith or spiritual life impacts our daily lives. As I pondered this question over the past few weeks, I was somewhat alarmed at how difficult I was finding it to identify anything that I thought of as spiritual in my daily life. This was shaping up to be a short reflection!
Like many of you, my daily life is dominated by the mundane — by definition, “of this world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one.” Up around 5am most days, to the gym for a quick workout if I can muster the energy; shower, hop on MUNI then BART; to the office in Oakland for a day of meetings, writing, thinking, problem solving; reverse the commute to SF; dinner, playtime and bedtime with the family; then to bed to recharge and prepare to do it all again. I don’t mean to make this sound like drudgery. There are countless moments of beauty, fulfilment, and joy hidden in the routine, although I’m not always good about recognizing them in the moment. But spirituality in daily life…it almost seems like a contradiction.
For me, spirituality has always been about tapping into, getting a glimpse of, something bigger than myself that helps me understand my place in the world, my place in creation. It’s about getting past the mundane. It’s about seeking perspective.
Marta would be entitled to roll her eyes right about now. You see, in our family and among close friends I have come to be known as “perspective guy.” It’s generally not a compliment.
Perspective guy really likes to place things into the appropriate context. Perspective guy typically listens patiently to people’s concerns and then responds by informing them that their issues are really quite insignificant compared to the civil war raging in X country or the challenges the human race faced in some previous era. Perspective guy is a little too eager to weaponize history and current events. Perspective guy means well, but…let’s be honest, he can lack empathy at times.
So yes, perspective can be abused. But, put to more constructive ends, I also believe that it can be a window to spirituality. And after more reflection, I realized that there’s far more of it in my life than I may have been aware.
Paradoxically, it’s there in the micro…the brief, beautiful moments that form the building blocks of each day. The small things that connect us with something bigger. For me, it’s there when I arrive home from work and overhear Helena, unaware of my presence, quietly talking to her stuffed animals while she arranges them. It was there the day I took a slow motion video of Elise running across Robin Williams Meadow in Golden Gate Park and later watched it over and over again, transfixed by the look of pure joy on her face…frame by perfect frame. I’m generally ambivalent about technology, but I was grateful for the unique and beautiful perspective it enabled in this case.
I also find perspective and spirituality in the macro…the places, experiences, and ideas that give me a chance to zoom out and feel small. To be sure, these don’t happen every day, but our family tries to prioritize building in these experiences whenever we can. Camping beside the ocean, under trees, and in the mountains that have existed for millennia before I arrived on this earth and will, I hope, continue to do so long after I am gone. Sitting by the campfire, looking up at the stars and pondering the vastness of the cosmos…the fact that we live on one planet in one galaxy among perhaps hundreds of billions more. Volunteering as a family at Point Reyes during the winter months and helping visitors spot a gray whale during its 10,000 mile round trip migration between Alaska and Mexico. Going to sleep at night in the volunteer housing at the Point Reyes Headlands and listening to the trumpeting of male elephant seals…all the while thinking about the fact that we are on a different tectonic plate — a different piece of the earth’s crust — than the one we woke up on when we started our day in San Francisco. It’s humbling.
I find perspective and spirituality in the new…even little things. Taking a different route to work. Listening to a podcast that exposes me to a new idea. Meeting someone with a different background than my own. Traveling…either literally…or more commonly these days, through the pages of a book.
So…this is how I seek out spirituality, but how it does it influence how I try to live? Well, it encourages me to pay attention, to appreciate the magic of ordinary days. It keeps me humble. It makes me intensely grateful for all of the blessings in my life. And it leads me to try and emulate, however imperfectly, Jesus’s message of love that is reinforced every day by the Seventh Avenue community. Amen.
– Drew Lindsey
We’re pleased to present the September issue of Seventh AveNews. Click here to download a copy!