Week 2: Sacred Seeing
Seeing can be a sacred act. Without the seeming divide between the sacred and secular, all of our daily practices can be opened up to God -- sleeping, studying, reading, working, conversing, cleaning, eating, even being in a public space.
Spiritual Practice Details:
In pantheism, God is everything: God is a rock, God is a dirt road. St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuit order, saw it differently. He encouraged us to see “God in all things, and all things in God.” Theologians call this different understanding of God in everything panentheism. This week, we will practice seeing God in everything and everyone in a public space.
- Find a public space where you encounter lots of people and things. This could be on the subway or bus on your morning commute, outside during a walk, or inside sitting in a mall.
- Ask yourself “Where is God?” or “How may I find God in this place?” Ask for God’s help in uncovering God’s presence around you.
- Perceive everything. What do you see, hear, smell, and feel, maybe even taste? What do you notice? Whom do you see? What are they wearing? What sounds are they making? How do they smell? What is the weather like?
- Explore what you perceive. Of the people you see, where might they be going? What are they in charge of? What are their struggles and prayers? What value lies in each person you see? How are you related to that person?
- Uncover goodness and truth. Where do you find beauty or truth in all that you see, hear, and smell? Where is there goodness or pleasure? What do you admire? What art do you encounter? These can be hidden beneath the surface and are often signs of God.
- Reflect and respond. Sometimes when uncovering God’s presence around you, you are led to respond or connect. Where might God be leading you to connect instead of passing by or ignoring?
- Finally, pause and give thanks for your experience
In short, sometimes we are so concerned with the transcendence of God (God being out there), we forget about experiencing the immediate presence of God in the here and now (immanence). Enjoy God’s immanence.
- Remember to slow down and calm yourself to sense the world around you.
- When practicing this as part of a commute, instead of walking/running up and down the escalators in the Metro, slow down and ride the escalators standing still.
- Take note of both everything and everyone around you, every profane and wonderful aroma, every calming and irritating draft of air, every language you hear, every body around you. Remember God is in all creation, that includes the people around but also the things around you.
Questions for Reflection:
Where might God have been present in the sights, sounds, tastes, and sensations of your day?
Where did you connect and respond to God’s desires for you and your actions in light of God’s presence around you?
Where may you have turned away from God’s desires for you when viewing God’s presence around you?
What might God be leading you to change as a result of a missed opportunity?
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“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful for beauty is
God’s handwriting – a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in
every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of
-Ralph Waldo Emerson