29 May 2010

God in Ordinary Time

That was the title of the Barbara Brown Taylor workshop at the Cathedral today. It would go down on my top three events in terms of inspirational potential, alongside the conference in 1995 lead by Richard Foster, and the sermon preached by Bishop Tom (NT) Wright when I was at BCNZ.

Lots of things bouncing around, but I'll try to summarise. Her key concept was that faith, and the language of faith, has to be embodied - in our bodies. Lots of "God words" are really abstract: faith, love, grace, forgiveness, sin, Trinity, even God and Spirit - abstract words. She was talking about reclaiming our language and putting it in concrete, provocative terms. She told lots of stories, which helped us see what she was about. Experience of God comes through the body: smell, touch, taste, hearing.

I loved some of the questions she asked:
  • What does grace taste like? My answer: a shot of Bailey's and a shot of chocolate liqueur in half a glass of icy cold milk, topped with cream, on a Friday night
  • What does God taste like? My answer: crumbed schnitzel with melted cheese and bacon inside, with a dash of lemon juice on top
  • Pick a scar you have, and think about what it taught you about God. My answer: the scars from my surgeries for endometriosis - learning that the God who blew the world into being like we blow bubbles knew what it meant to experience pain.
Where do I experience God?
  • Walking on the beach, the taste of salt on my lips and the smell of sand in my nose. The feel of damp sand between my toes. The seasgulls crying the loneliness of God. The splash of the waves singing the rhythm of God's world.
  • Walking out at lunchtime today to get something to eat, into rain so hard it sounded like thunder on the road, the raindrops dancing the dance of creation.
  • The feel of my daughter's hand in mine.
  • The purring of my cat as he rubs his head against mine.
  • The smell of beeswax candles burning.
Lots of places and ideas to think about, to experience, to be. I will be living with this workshop for a long long time, and the conversations I had with different people there.

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