Sitting in church on Sunday morning, the minister began his sermon with the above quote. He, like many, misattributed the quote to C.S. Lewis. George MacDonald – Victorian novelist, poet and Christian Fantasy writer who influenced Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Walter de la Mare, and Madeleine L’Engle – is more accurately the owner of the widely circulated quote. Nevertheless, on Trinity Sunday, I stopped to think about the deeper more theological context of the words. So often, in an attempt to make ideas accessible to the masses, I think the richer reflections are lost to those seeking them. I don’t have it all figured out, but I think maybe one doesn’t actually exist without the other.
Maybe they’re both made of particles that disperse back into their respective planes, and are regathered with particles previously unknown to them to recreate life. Maybe heaven really is experienced today in our soul-bodied forms, and at no time after they separate from each other. At a time when more churches and religions are realizing a need for ecuminicality and interfaith services, I have hope that more people can find peace in the right now- and have less fear of the unknown.
For June, I am reflecting on the various temples in my life. Where they are, what they look like, how I use them, or how I could better identify them and make them more useful and purposeful. A dearth of theological expertise you’ll find here, but an abundance of excitement and wonder as I contemplate my own soul-bodied connections with the spirit of life.
I recently began writing a short story about a South Georgian sculptor who uses red clay refined from her own back yard to create small animal scenes in traditional religious settings. She pinches and squishes and rolls and pounds the clay between her fingers, adding water, using tiny sharp tools to define the faces and clumps of hair and fur and nails and tails – and she prays the entire time. This type of active meditation acts to destress and focus her emotions and ideas and goals. She comes out on the other side of the sculpture with clarity and truth.
Our garden club is finally filling our raised beds with soil and planting our tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and herbs this week. We had a long messy winter. Then, our campus journeyed through a series of very unfortunate events. This is a typical planting time for our region, so I don’t feel behind, yet I am anxious to get my hands in the dirt and to stand back in awe of the plants that will give so much to our community this summer.
We need it. We need to see tiny seeds grow into tomatoes that we will turn into salsa or marinara or simply slice and consume. We need the routine to bring us back to the earth, on our knees, digging and pulling weeds. We need to sweat and be tired. We need to do this together, to help heal our hurting community.
As I think of our small community garden and the active meditation I will do there, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to work through my troubles in this way. I think of the words I might say, the questions I might ask, and the guidance I might receive from the universe during this process.
Like the woman in my short story who finds heaven in sculpting, I am thrilled to find heaven in those plots of soil among the hills of peas and the trellises of cucumbers. The summer growing beds are a tiny request for redemption, an attempt to replace what I take. The garden is one temple I can rely on to awaken the presence of God, to connect my everyday person with the spirit of peace and love and hope.
I’m excited to find and share some of the places where I find worship happening, for myself and others, with the universe and beyond. June is a beautiful month to be alive in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Where ever you are, I hope you can identify an assortment of temples to invite peace and grace into your being.
Agere Contra, friends