Monday, June 18, 2007

New York City, Chopping Wood, Carrying Water

Riverside Park,...NYC...just a beautiful place.

We arrived today and my wife began her program at Columbia. I had the great pleasure of walking around with my two boys and also checking out some of the amazing sights and sites of New York City. It is exhausting to be watching two kids under 5, but also exhilarating and a tremendous blessing. As a person who grew up in the woods of Vermont, I still am surprised at the trees and nature that can be found in cities. I give great thanks to the visionaries who set aside these areas, and also great thanks to those who continue to maintain these oases in the midst of concrete and steel.

There is an eastern proverb which I believe is either Taoist or Buddhist in origin that says:

"Before enlightenment, chopping wood, carrying water....
after enlightenment, chopping wood, carrying water."

Essentially, even after profound spiritual and mystical experiences our lives remain enmeshed in the everyday. For me, my ordination to the diaconate was a mountaintop experience, and I have had a few of these deeply connecting spiritual experiences. However, I have learned that these experiences are deep, yet do not last forever in their intensity. I know now that I cannot remain on the mountaintop forever, and there is much "chopping wood," and "carrying water" to be done. It seems that a key goal is to find a way to have these seemingly mundane tasks become enlivened and deepened. In the Christian framework, we believe in the Incarnation, that God really became human, as Joan Osborne* asks, "What if God was one of us...?"

Well, that is what we, as Christians, believe, that God became one of us, and is here among us, between us, within us even today. So even our "chopping wood," "carrying water," "changing diapers," "finding snacks," and "playing in the playground," are all enlivened and deepened through the work of the Spirit.

*Shout out to CB for the reminder that it was Joan Osborne and not Alanis Morisette that sang this song!!! (Thanks!!)

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