Living Out a Spiritual Motto: Observing the Presence of God in Different Faith Traditions
Over the past few years, I’ve settled on a spiritual motto: The Earth is your sanctuary, life is your liturgy, creation is your community. What I love about this motto is it’s progressiveness; I am continually being awakened to new and exciting discoveries about these truths and where God is. I’m reminded of what is sacred, and that sacred moments can happen anywhere, doing anything, and with anyone.
Practice of Worship
In the Christian tradition, we often sing about the Lord preparing us to be a sanctuary. We refer to our worship halls as sanctuaries. A sanctuary suggests a place set aside for a holy purpose, where God’s Spirit is alive. Liturgy, which literally means “work of the people,” is the process and practice of worship that takes place in these sanctuaries. Community, of course, often takes place inside church buildings and sanctuaries. When we extend the experience of sanctuary, liturgy, and community outside the walls of our churches, we are reminded that God’s work through us is always taking place. When you serve those in need, such as in a refugee camp, among the homeless, or at an animal shelter, you are building sacred ground, doing liturgy by serving others, and welcoming them into your community circle. You are enabling God’s grace to work through and for you.
I’ve needed to reckon with how much of our religious practice takes place in private, inside homes, or within houses of worship, earmarked for selected times of the day or week, and that religion is a subject not to be brought up in polite company. When our religious practice happens in specific times and places, it can be hard to see how it can be tied to the other parts of our lives. Many of us acknowledge that we are called to live out our faiths at all times, but so often, the demands of life become a distraction, whether that’s a focus on our work, household chores, or worries over global, national, communal, and interpersonal issues.
Seeking God Everywhere
My Muslim friends tell me that the place to be closest to God is praying on the ground, and that the Earth is your mosque, as much as inside a building. I wholeheartedly embrace this sentiment – there is something deeply true and holy about remembering God is present and active everywhere. I like to begin the day asking where I can see God active and present for that day – affirming both constant truths, as well as new realities of the work of God emerging.
I often go on nature walks near my North Carolina home. There is something about hiking in the woods that feels distinctively like worship. Drawing in the sights of the tall North Carolina pine trees that have always given me shade, shelter, and stability; the bright ferns dotting the pathways; the crisp blue sky and blazing sun, whose warmth contrasts the chill of the winter air tickling my skin. The sound of rustling leaves, a babbling brook, and the call of the crow. The damp, mossy bark and the scent of the morning dew setting in. All these things come together as the orchestra of creation. When I find myself amongst it, it is easy to feel like I’m drawn closer to the life of God.
I invite you to observe the presence of God in your unique life call, and the general call God extends us to a life of holiness, and how that holiness exists on this planet Earth, our sanctuary home; the rhythm of daily living, our sacred liturgy; and all creatures, as your companions in community.
Amy Langston is a graduate of the International Peacemaking Program in 2018 and the Master of Arts in Religious Studies in 2019. She is a copyeditor, a disability advocate, and continues to actively write and research about religion.