I woke up this morning with part of the liturgy singing in my head. It's the part right before we take the Eucharist: "Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might..." I opened my eyes and instead of my bedroom ceiling, I pictured the stained glass, the older congregants and the way they kneel and bow, their hands crossing their chests in reverence at the name of Christ. Their sincerity is a revelation to me and I think of it often. More than anything, it is reverence I want to take into this day.
The dictionary defines reverence as deep regard or respect for someone or something. I don't know if the modern world has any use for the word at all, but I am awakening to it, hungry for it.
Forgive my descent into the mundane, but this weekend I filled more bags for Goodwill. Can I tell you how it saddens me to say that? I don't understand what drives me to gather and hoard so many things. When the best items were sorted out, I collected all the old t-shirts that were too worn and cut them up into rags, made t-shirt yarn to crochet into throw rugs, made bags for shopping. It was a boring job and when my hand started cramping I thought seriously about throwing the rest away. It's a disposable world and I belong to it; isn't the idea to declutter and make more space for my happiness? I kept at the cutting. I realized how carelessly I'd made those purchases, how casually I grabbed free t-shirts at events, stuffed more clothes into drawers. I thought of the pioneers, straightening nails for reuse again and again. I thought of my Grandma's quilts made from the tiny dresses she'd sewn her girls, each square worn and soft with use. Surely that is a kind of reverence I could awaken at home. What if I viewed every purchase with the idea that I was responsible for these goods until every scrap of them was worn out and used up? Surely then I would buy much less with more wisdom and yes, more reverence.
With October winding up, it is nearly the end of the liturgical year. A new year will begin with the Advent season. Here, too, I am thinking about reverence, of not being swept along by the weeks or weighed down by the clutter of cultural obligations the way I so often am. As kort has encouraged in her lovely series on keeping advent, I need to carve out margin. Suddenly I see the months ahead as a holy time, a time for reverent attention. There will be no new schemes this year, no purchases of trinkets or decorations to help keep saints' days and holy days; that too, is a subtle trap. I have enough in my hands right now for worship and proper reverence.
I said earlier that I don't understand why I gather and hoard things, but I think perhaps with the writing out of these ideas that I do know. Perhaps I am afraid of emptiness, of being caught unprepared, of having a need that I cannot meet. Perhaps I am afraid to live vulnerable, dependent on something (or Someone) other than my own provision. For all the words of faith I have laid down over the years, I am still fighting my way towards the living of it.
My mind goes back to church and I remember the little old gentleman who was asked to share on stewardship one Sunday morning. The whole congregation watched as he exited his pew and stopped in the aisle to make a long, slow, formal bow towards the altar before he walked gingerly to the front. I've thought about that every day, the way he bowed as if Someone real - and powerful - was standing at the front of the church, the way he was unembarrassed, uncaring that we were all waiting while he bent in reverence. More than anything, it's that kind of reverence I want to take into this day. More than anything, it's that kind of living I want to do.