Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Chapter 16 Holiness in Life

Sara Miles started to come to a realization about the Christian life: “The words I read and prayed, and the different acts of a liturgical year, continued to bounce off one another: walking, talking, carrying plates of food to a table, eating. Somehow the sanctified and ritual parts of church, as I told Jeff, were merging with the parts that reminded me of ordinary life: dinner parties, working in a restaurant kitchen, hanging out with my friends. “It’s like there’s not really a line between what’s holy and what’s not,” I said in amazement. “Or not such a sharp one.” “That would be correct,” said Jeff.” (173-174)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Chapter 16 Words and Acts

As Sara Miles dives deeper into her new faith, she learns what is meant by the struggle to understand God.  She relates what her priest says about understanding the Word of God and the persistence of humanity in relationship with God. 

“”The Word of God,” he said, “is what’s heard by the people of God when the Bible is read.” That meant the Word was living not because it was magical but because over and over, down the centuries, believers wrestled with texts, adapted them, edited them, interpreted them, swallowed them whole, and spat them out. The stories in the Bible were records of human attempts to understand God – attempts that were hopelessly incomplete. But, through words and acts, we kept trying.” (171-172)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Spiritual Direction

One of the Christian practices Sara Miles describes taking part in throughout her time at St. Gregory's is Spiritual Direction. Spiritual Direction is a practice where usually two people meet together at regular, agreed upon, intervals to discuss how the person seeking direction is encountering God in their life. The Director listens, gives perspective, suggests new ways of looking at situations, and asks questions in order to help the directee deepen their relationship with God. Spiritual Direction has been a part of the Christian tradition since biblical times, when new converts were given a mentor who would help them on their journey.

While Spiritual Direction typically takes place in an established relationship, there are also retreats offered throughout the country at camps, retreat centers, monasteries, and convents which offer a more intense experience of spiritual direction, with sessions each day. Sometimes these retreats are offered in conjunction with specific topics in mind.

Spiritual Direction is not just a part of the Christian tradition, but also a part of the Jewish and Muslim traditions, along with many other religions. Having a spiritual teacher or mentor leads to stronger, deeper, and more durable relationships with God and has been considered a wise move for centuries.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Chapter 15 Faith and Certainty

 For Sara Miles, who had been through wars before, going through war while being a Christian was much different than her previous experiences. 

“Being a Christian in wartime, for me, was turning out to be the opposite of having “God on our side.” It meant expanding not just a personal capacity to suffer but the personal and institutional capacity to dwell in ambiguity and unsettledness. It occurred to me that the church was a place, maybe the only place, where that could happen.” (167)

“”You know,” I told Jeff, the next time I saw him, “when I was looking at it from the outside, faith seemed to be about certainty. What a surprise.”” (168)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Chapter 15 Differences of Faith

Sara Miles shares some of her experience with spiritual direction; talking with someone else specifically about her spiritual life. During the period right after September 11th, 2001, Sara experienced some difficulty relating to other denominations of Christians. Luckily her spiritual director was able to help her out. 

“”There have always been different ways of being a Christian,” Jeff said. “Claim your own, keep going.”” (163)

What is your Christianity?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Chapter 15 Faith and Politics

In the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, Sara Miles found another new perspective on Christianity.“This was what it meant to be a Christian for me: that in the midst of undeniable suffering, it was possible to summon up gratitude and praise. “All of us go down to the dust,” we sang, “yet even at the grave, we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.” That had been a breathtaking moment, a brief space in which I could feel  the violent reality of human life collide with a faith that, beyond the very worst we could do to one another, there was God.” (159-160)

“In that dark time, I was inching toward what religious traditions called “orthopraxy” (right practice) rather than orthodoxy (right belief). I was hearing that what counted wasn’t fundamentalist theology, or liberation or traditional or postmodern theology. It wasn’t denominations or creeds or rituals. It wasn’t liberal or conservative ideology. It was faith, working through love.” (161)

“But faith working through love: That could mean plugging away with other people, acting in small ways without the comfort of a big vision or even a lot of realistic hope. It could look more like prayer: opening yourself to uncertainty, accepting your lack of control. It meant taking on concrete tasks in the middle of confusion, without stopping to argue about who was the truest believer. Whatever else, I could at least keep working in the pantry, feeding as many people as I could.” (161-162)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Chapter 14 Heavenly Banquet

Sara Miles says she had an epiphany one day: "I understood why Christians imagined the kingdom of heaven as a feast: a banquet where nobody was excluded, where the weakest and most broken, the worst sinners and outcasts, were honored guests who welcomed one another in peace and shared their food." (158) All from working at the food pantry. 

How do you best understand the kingdom of heaven?