Sacristy

In the faith tradition I come from there is a room known as a sacristy which is right near the main worship space. It is sometimes two different rooms. It is the room where you prepare for the worship service.

It is the name for the room where the priest puts on vestments to celebrate Mass. It is also the name for the room where the altar guild cleans and prepares the elements and the vessels for communion. These are separate rooms but they have a similar function. They are set aside to get ready for the service. These rooms are used just for these purposes and nothing else.

They are kind of like airlocks, or vestibules. They are in between places. They are thin places. They help those people (the minister or the altar guild) get ready to celebrate and encounter the divine.

How interesting that we can’t get in our heads that God is present unless we switch gears. How interesting that we have to have separate rooms for this.

Why don’t we have such rooms everywhere?

Every place is a sacristy. Every moment is divine.

Your own kitchen, bathroom and closet are all places to prepare. You are always in transition from the secular to the sacred. You are always there, and here, at the same time.

Preparing yourself for worship is as simple and as sublime as eating breakfast, taking a shower, and dressing. Starting your car to drive to your worship hall is a sacrament. Taking your coat off and hanging it on a hook is preparing to receive the gift of God’s presence.

Be here, in the moment. Your ministry has begun.

God awaits you to celebrate.

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The artistic life

I’m on vacation, and I just haven’t written as much as I normally do. I’ve taken the time to draw, which is nice. It seems to take just as long to draw as to write. I’m not sure how I’d find the time to do both.
What is more important? Isn’t it just important that I’m engaging in art? Art of any sort is healing. The ideal is to have time to write, sketch, paint, drum… But then there is a job I have to go to.
I have a few friends who essentially have said that art is more important than a job. They have made art their job. They say things like “money is evil”. While I agree that loving money isn’t great, I do like the things that money can buy, like food, shelter, and clothing.
While I don’t live large, I do like to live comfortably. I have a small house. Most of my clothes come from thrift stores. I eat well, in part because I’ve learned how to cook. While I admire the gumption of people who have decided to strike out on their own, I feel a little like they are saying that my path isn’t valid, isn’t authentic. I feel a little like a meat eater versus a vegetarian.
Their way is seen as higher evolved or more mindful. My way is seen as hedging my bets and unwilling to cut loose from the shore. My way is seen as being a slave to “the man”, whoever that is.
They wonder why their friends and relatives don’t support their choice to follow their dreams. The only problem is that “support” means “pay for”. They expect their friends and relatives to buy what they’ve made or go to their seminars. Meanwhile they mock them on social media for staying with their secure job. You know, that job where they earn money to buy their art.
If we all quit our jobs and start making art, then how are we going to pay our bills? Because who is going to come to our our seminars and concerts? Who is going to buy our books and artwork? We will all be starving artists because we won’t have an audience to buy our stuff.
I feel it is very dangerous for an artist to mock her audience, or to make them feel like suckers. If everybody could draw or write or bead or dance then why would they need to see you do it? Why would they need to pay you to do it?
We need gas station attendants. We need janitors. We need garbage truck drivers. We need them the same as we need teachers, doctors, lawyers, and diplomats. Saying that someone is less evolved, less mindful, or is just plain less because they have a “real” job and haven’t cut loose and created a non-profit or live in a commune is thoughtless and cruel, and wrong. It is wrong in the sense of “mean”, but it is also wrong in the sense of “incorrect”.
You can be creative while working for “the man”. It just takes a little figuring out. And to knock down someone else’s lifestyle choice as being less enlightened than yours is, in itself, less enlightened.

Poem – water

The same water is in each container.
Tall, short
straight, bumpy, rippled
opaque, translucent,
they all hold water –

the water we need to live
together.

No container is better than another.

Some containers make it hard
to see
the water
but it is still there.

Perhaps if we start looking at the water
the essence, the life
the soul
if you will
and ignore the container
we’ll start
to see the humanity
and the divine
in each person.

Pride: In the name of self-love.

I have a great respect for Judaism. I am studying Jewish prayers and have incorporated them in my daily practice. I’m learning to read and write in Hebrew. I’m learning the stories and rituals. I’ve listened to Jewish podcasts for many years now.

But there is one big thing that keeps getting in my way of fully appreciating this culture, and that is the idea of being better. I come across it every now and then and the beautiful musical score that I was listening to just hits a scratch in the record and I wince.

I come across it in the guise of birthright – that if you were born Jewish, you are better. Converts need not apply. If you aren’t genetically Jewish, you aren’t really human.

I found this first in a Messianic Jewish congregation that said that Jews who believed in Jesus as the Messiah were not to be considered the same as Gentiles who believed in Jesus as the Messiah. They weren’t equal – they were better. The fact that they felt it necessary to separate Jews and Gentiles in that congregation meant that they just didn’t get the message of Jesus at all. But that isn’t the core of the problem.

I saw it again yesterday in a post about a group that sends books to Jews to remind them about how wonderful they are just because they were born Jewish. The goal was to fight assimilation. The goal was to educate them, to keep them Jewish. There are way too many cultures in general that are losing their identity. Entire languages and ways of thinking are being lost.

But to say that someone is better than everyone else just because they are genetically Jewish? Or anything else? That is really a problem.

If Jewish people wonder why they are oppressed and hated by many people, perhaps they need to look at themselves first. This idea that they are inherently better than anybody else isn’t going to win them any fans. This idea that God made them special and left everyone else sort of half-done, if at all, isn’t going to endear them to anyone.

Nobody likes people who are high on themselves. Stuck-ups aren’t the popular kids. They get rocks thrown at them not because they are better, but because they THINK they are better.

Of course, Jews aren’t the only ones who think like this. Americans do this all the time, for instance.

And the same problems develop. Flag burning, acts of terrorism. People hate Americans because Americans think they are better, and try to force their way on other cultures. Americans send their troops to invade, to bring order, but it is the American way of order that they are bringing. We then follow up with our culture – TV, clothing, music. By the time we leave, we’ve left them with no trace of themselves.

When people think they are better, by virtue of their birth or their citizenship, they will come under attack.

When we all start to respect each other, peace will happen.