Sunday, February 27, 2011

Intentional Faith

It is the ongoing quest to live more intentionally that led to my minor obsession with food.  After all, if I were going to cook dinner every day, I knew I must fully embrace the task in order to rise above the inevitable drudgery that would accompany such a potentially mundane chore.  And it worked. My virtual immersion in food politics and cooking science elevated the whole kit and kaboodle to a height by which I felt less like the housewife I had become than the hobbyist I would rather view myself as.

Finding enjoyment and purpose in the daily humdrum becomes an end in itself at a certain point, turning what could drag me down into a full source of satisfaction in the minutia of the everyday.  It also, I have found, means that I tend to question everything.  Every.  Little.  Bitty.  Thing.

Intentional living, as I see it, nay, as I try to live it, is a mash-up of my twisted brand of consumer anarchism and my own little way of deriving meaning and joy from the moments of day-to-day life that don't, ummm, feed my soul, if you know what I mean.

So I've gone all zen on the chores.  Mopping as practice in meditation.  Grocery shopping as an exercise in ethical consumption.  The putting away of laundry as a means of providing order and harmony.

Where it all begins to fall apart though is when I suddenly realize I've found beauty in housework, but have managed to turn the rituals of my spiritual life into a mere habit of going through the motions.

Oh, the irony.

When we all slept later than planned this morning, and when I realized I simply did not have it in me to fight the good fight to get us all to church, my first instinct was to push through it anyway, to yell until everyone pulled it together, to force the whole thing, because going to church on Sunday morning is what we do, by golly.  And then it began to dawn on me how utterly absurd that was.  What was my concern exactly?  That we would miss worship?  That we would not have the rejuvenating experience of focusing on God?  Or that we weren't doing what we were supposed to do?

At the point at which I have figured out how to clean intentionally,  to cook intentionally, and to sometimes even, ahem, parent intentionally, and yet I do not go to church intentionally, I think I might be missing the whole stinking point.

This isn't a revelation that just came upon me of a sudden this morning, of course.  It is something that has been building for some time now, and which led me to recently step down from a volunteer position that I have held at church for the past five years, because if the focus is to be on God, then my intentions have fallen far short.  I do not wish for church to be something that I just do.  What I most desire is to further experience, and extend, grace.

We did stay home this morning, lounging about in our pajamas, drinking coffee, and snuggling with the kids.  And amazingly, not because we did not go to church, but despite it, I found that elusive missing intentionality in the glory of a pure Springtime day, in the singing of the birds that have been quiet for so long, and in the peace of a few stolen moments in thankful prayer.


Zoë said...

This is exactly how I feel, though I do think it's important to also include worship with a wide variety of people, not necessarily just our little families. There's something about bringing others' viewpoints into our lives that is equally as important as stopping to listen to those singing birds. So we'll continue to go to church but when we do skip, I don't any longer feel guilty. Thanks for putting it in such beautiful words!

Anonymous said...

if you haven't yet, and you have time, do read John Ortberg's The Life You've Always Wanted. it is so beautifully practical in helping you to find, well, the life you've always wanted in faith. in the middle of a whirlwind, i'm beginning to find mine, and i'm not being a particularly good student yet!

just a suggestion. it is highly worth your time.