by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The reading for Sunday, August 2, 2015:
Deuteronomy 11:1 - 21
As I read the passage for Sunday, I was struck by the end:
"You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem* on your forehead. 19Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 20Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth."
We are to carry the words of God not only in our hearts, our brains, but visibly too. Last week I wrote a post which thought about words and how we would carry them. Today I want to think about how else we might come to know God, if not by words.
I've spent most of my life dealing with words, as an English major and an English teacher. As a Lutheran, too, I've spent much of my time with words: saying them, singing them, listening to them, writing them.
But are there other ways to hear God's message?
We might see the voice of God in creation. After all, we can know a lot about an artist by the work that the artist creates. What does the world around us tell us about God? It's a vast creation, so we are likely to get many insights from it. Even if you think you know the message, look again. Take a look at the harder parts of this question. What does the cancer cell tell us about the mind of God?
It's an uncomfortable line of questioning, and I confess that I don't have an answer yet. But I'm convinced that it's an important question to ask. It's easy to see God in a beautiful sunset and come away with the standard idea that God loves beauty and color. But what about the not so beautiful aspects of life?
How else can we imprint God's message on our bodies? Lately I've begun to see that part of the verse about imprinting God's words on our bodies as suggesting that we use our bodies as part of our spiritual discipline. I'll remember a verse in a more tangible way if I repeat it as I move around a labyrinth. I'm more likely to calm down if I pray while practicing yoga or deep breathing than I am if I simply pray. I know I'm not alone. What do we learn about God by this observation?
We might also learn about God from the visual arts. What do painters, potters, sculptors, photographers, and other artists teach us about God? We live in a time of wonderful resources. Most of us have access to a wide world of art via the Internet. What might we learn by studying a non-word work of art?
There are many ways to imprint God onto our lives. What a wonderful realization! Most of us will have a favorite, but it's good to branch out to see what other methods might have to teach us.