Monday, May 28, 2012

Practicing Reverence

"To practice the discipline of reverence...
means that we remain 
always secretly ready 
to receive the words 
that could illuminate our destiny."
John O'Donohue

You've seen this lovely Kwan Yin on these pages before; she's one of Anita Feng's wonderful clay creations (I see there is another one of these in her shop this week) and lately she's been perched on the table in front of me as I meditate, reminding me of the importance of receptivity and openness.

I'm getting lots of practice today: my PC-based husband has purchased an iPod and is busily loading books on CD into iTunes so he'll have something to listen to while he and our daughter drive her car back across the country.

As anyone who has ever loaded CDs into iTunes knows, not every CD labels its tracks the same way, and this is doubly true in the world of books on tape.  Which means that finding them once they're loaded in and making playlists of them becomes a rather complicated exercise, requiring a certain amount of flexibility; you have to dance lightly through the process.

But there's a reason my husband is a software tester: he's not particularly light on his feet, and though he's flexible about a lot of things and very generous, he's also extremely logical, so when things are not logical, well... he kind of breaks them.  It's a gift, when you're looking for flaws, to have someone be so good at finding them.  It's not such a gift when you're just trying to accomplish a simple task and things keep "breaking."

And meanwhile, of course, I have my own complex leaving-on-a-trip to-do list which requires a certain amount of concentration, so I'm not quite as gracious as I might be about all the interruptions (thanks to my daughters I am somewhat of an iTunes expert -- at least, relative to him -- so whenever something doesn't work he comes to me).

But if I am practicing the discipline of reverence, I really need to understand that something about what is happening here -- the interruptions, the training, the intermittent listening required to decide whether this is track one of the book about libraries or track one of the book about island history -- may have, hidden somewhere in it, those "words that could illuminate our destiny."

I had never quite thought of reverence as a discipline before, but of course: if we believe God is in everything, and that there is divine purpose in everything, then it follows naturally that the reverence we reserve for "things of God" must in fact be a reverence for all of life -- good, bad, ugly or irritating; it all has the potential to enlighten.

Hmm.  Well, every discipline takes practice.  And today I'm getting lots of practice in this one!

NOTE: This John O'Donohue quotation is from his book, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (© John O’Donohue. All rights reserved). To learn more about John O'Donohue, be sure to visit his website: 

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