We live in an age when God needs GPS. Or better put, we need God to use GPS. Our day and age is out of touch with the Divine, the sacred. We have to go looking for it. And the search is made all that much harder because we don’t even know what we are really looking for any more. It’s kind of like when you move from one house to another and you remember where you kept the colander in the old house, and you’re pretty sure you kept it but you don’t know where it is now. But maybe not. Did we ever have a colander? When was the last time I saw it? I’m not sure. Too many times that how looking for God feels these days.
In ancient days, the monks who lived in the Abbey didn’t have to go looking for God. Their whole day was centered on living in God’s presence. They stopped what they were doing at regular intervals to remember that they were in the midst of God. They prayed, they read and recited the scriptures they loved, they meditated, they heard sermons and homilies, and they sang. Their rhythm helped them create some of the most beautiful art. They illuminated the pages of scripture with gold and silver and colors of every kind. Some of them created Gregorian chants whose power and awe still haunt us today. Poetry and science were generated by this day to day dwelling in God’s presence.
It is one of our greatest shames that we took what was so inspiring of an experience of worship and drained it and desiccated it to the point that in our generations worship has become one of the LAST places people seem to find God.
Which begs the question of what worship, seeking to be in God’s presence, will be like in the Urban Abbey? How to we recapture that inspiring, creativity-generating encounter? Here are a few ideas in that direction:
- A Safe and sacred encounter: open to bringing a person’s full being along.
- A Creative time: using imagination, excitement, all five senses, mind AND heart.
- Relevant and authentic: addressing life where we are and who we are.
- Communal and intergenerational: like the best of family meals of times past, everyone is welcome at the table.
- Intentional: It takes practice coming into God’s presence. We set aside time that is free of all the other distractions in life to focus on our center and our Life.
There are lots of forms and ways and places this can happen. Since ours is an Urban Abbey not confined to cloistered walls, we are free to seek God anywhere. And while we hope to glean some valuable treasure from the ancient spiritual troves, likewise we are free to create our own methods and songs. We truly are in an experimental age again; free to seek God in innovative and creative ways. It is an age for artists, revolutionaries, and those on an evolutionary journey. Those of the Urban Abbey will continue to seek God, and to discover this generation’s ways of living in the Divine presence.