The Bible describes the coming of the Christ as "the Word made flesh." That is a lesson of Christ: that Spirit touches our ordinary lives - right here and now - with healing and power and insight and transformation, with deep love. Today, imagine, like a fairy princess with a magic wand, that the presence of Spirit touches each element of your day, your every concern, with blessing. Feel Spirit's power and presence permeating your experiences, bringing light and vitality. Trust Love's activity and influence.
Today, Love helps you live soulfully. To live with soul is to feel the presence of the divine in the ordinary. It is to slow down and notice. It is to appreciate beauty and love and connection in the moment. It is to let go of a whirl of ego and opinion. It is to accept help from others. It is to feel depth of gratitude. You do not have to create this quality of thought in yourself - it comes from Love itself and flows through you.
Today, slow down and make each task a prayer.
In his book To Know As We Are Known, Parker Palmer writes:
"We must resist the popular tendency to think of transcendence as an upward and outward escape from the realities of self and world. Instead, transcendence is breaking-in, a breathing of the Spirit of love into the heart of our existence . . . To experience transcendence means to be removed - not from the self and the world, but from that hall of mirrors in which the two endlessly reflect and determine one another. Prayer takes us out - not of the self and the world, but out of their closed, circular logic."
You have less and more power and control than you realize.
You probably have less power and control than you think over many big issues. And you have more power and control than you realize in the day-to-day moments in your ordinary life. Therefore, commit to living your days - your actions and interactions - with kindness, patience, courage, and presence. Commit to living with integrity, being true to your highest self, attentive to your motives in your conversation and actions. This will have far more influence than you realize.
(This will lead you out of a sense of hopeless and despair about global issues - or a vague fantasy of being a savior without any practical steps to match - and will help you listen and discern for where you can contribute and be the most effective.)
Today, broaden your prayers. If you are praying about loneliness, include all lonely creatures. If you are praying about purpose, include all people who are lost. If you are praying about grief, include all who are grieving. If you are praying about lack, include all people and animals who do to not have enough.
Love is very big.
Yesterday on the radio show Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed comedian Pete Holmes. Pete ended the interview with these words:
"I really believe there is nothing you can do to increase or decrease the love that God or the Mystery or whatever you want to call it has for you, but there are things you can do or not do that increase your awareness of that love. To me, it is all about a clear antennae. You want to be plugged in."
Today, feel Love bathing all elements of your life, from the smallest to the largest.
Don't believe all your thoughts. Today, recognize that our human conclusions are formed from limited information absorbed through our flawed senses and assembled in a pattern, which may only be a vague semblance of reality. Today, loosen stubborn opinions and question your analysis and conclusions. Be open to what Love knows and is telling you, right in this moment, about your own nature and purpose. Be willing to be surprised.
It is the presence of Love which brings meaning and depth to our activities. You do not generate this Love, but are a conduit through which it passes and it's beneficiary.
Today, when you have a harsh judgement about yourself, first hand it to Love and feel yourself wrapped in Love's embrace. When the judgement arises, your mind may want to defend itself from the attack with self-justification or denial; with guilt; with blame of the self, others, or circumstance; or with penance through work or suffering. Often, none of these are inspired or useful choices. Begin by knowing yourself as beloved and embraced. True inspiration and wise change arises from this place.
More vocational advice from Parker Palmer:
"If we are to live our lives fully and well, we must learn to embrace opposites, to live in the creative tension between our limits and our potentials. We must honor our limitations in ways that do not distort our nature, and we must trust and use our gifts in ways that fulfill the potentials God gave us. We must take the no of the way that closes and find the guidance it has to offer - and take the yes of the way that opens and respond with the yes of our lives."
In Parker Palmer's Let Your Life Speak, he writes:
"The God I know does not ask us to conform to some abstract norm for the ideal self. God asks us only to honor our created nature, which means our limits as well as our potentials. When we fail to do so, reality happens - God happens - and the way closes behind us . . .
The attempt to live by the reality of our own nature, which means our limits as well as our potentials, is a profoundly moral regimen . . .
One dwells with God by being faithful to one's nature."
Tarn Wilson is the author of the memoir The Slow Farm and numerous essays. You may read more of her work at tarnwilson.com.