High church. Low church. No church. Morning coffee. Salat times. A walk in the evening. A quiet drive.
What’s your weekly liturgy? What’s your daily liturgy?
We tend not to think in such terms. Liturgy is that order of service stuff for high churches. We prefer the word “routine.” It would seem, perhaps, a more neutral word. And it is. One specifically for church, and the other for, well, everything else.
And yet, if our daily routines hold any kind of sacred whisper, they become the stuff of liturgy.
The morning drive to work, late night decompression in front of the TV, checking your regular internet sites, making dinner, a moment of prayer before a meal, mowing the lawn.
All of these are moments that have the potential to be part of a holy order of service. The service of your day. They are rituals. Even chores given a certain mindset or attentiveness have the potential to become sacred. Or rather–they already are sacred. It’s just a matter of our own attentiveness, our own recollection.
Do we find meaning in these events? Or is it the simple satisfaction of checking another item off the list of things that need to get done? Do we follow the order of service in such a way, scanning down the list until we get to something that brings us an amount of pleasure?
Do rituals make our lives feel meaningful in a genuine way? Religious and otherwise, if you prefer such a distinction. Or are they more often substitutes for genuine encounter and presence with the Divine? Or even substitutes for genuine encounter and presence with ourselves?
There is a certain comfort in routine. A predictability. A regularity and stability that we crave. But do we find meaning in our routines, in our own personal daily liturgies? Or are we just living out our days one event after the other? Why do we do the things that we do? Well, of course there are many reasons for the substance of our errands and efforts.
The most common is simply that things need to get done. Life has its demands that must be met, and we squeeze them into the time that is available to us. C’est la vie.
And then we do other things simply for enjoyment. We need these moments to keep up morale. To keep the day from wearing down on us.
Other actions we undertake for the sake of a group or others. These are giving moments, potentially loaded with meaning. Any true gift given selflessly has at least some amount of meaning in it.
Whatever it is we do, whatever makes up the content of our day–structured or otherwise, the source of our actions and our intention make all the difference. It is never just about the things we do, but how we do them and why. Each item on the order of service has the potential to be full of meaning. A ceremonial offering. The routine becomes ritual. The ordinary becomes sacred. The daily, divine.
But not just in our conscious awareness of the greater significance in each of our actions. One of the great values of rituals is that they can carry us through the times in our lives when our spirits are dry and our desire is lacking. Not as empty, callous actions, but a display of faithfulness and fidelity to a specific way of living. A commitment to values we hold even when we don’t feel them within.
So too with daily life. Many days we are simply just trying to get through, to accomplish all that needs to be done and keep our heads above water. This is still living our liturgies. We might realize at the end of the day that we didn’t experience a single moment of presence, not one thought or feeling beyond our own concerns. Still it is an offering.
Other days we might be so fortunate as to feel a breeze of meaning, a gust of the Spirit in our midst–in the car about to pick up the kids; just before the first sip of coffee; in the smile of a stranger on the street; sitting in a pew–in any one of the many moments that together make up the substance of each of our own, unique daily liturgies.