Discover the Divine within the Ordinary

On March 15, 2020, I watched the live stream of our service at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and joined in. A bit of confession—I joined in the afternoon. Sunday morning I had to make a run to Tractor Supply to buy chicken feed, and with store shelves emptying of all manner of items, I felt time was of the essence.

Time turned out to be interesting on March 15.

Our service transcended time and space. Though physically distant and a few hours late, I felt closer to my church family than ever. I felt our prayers take wing out into the world. I felt the peace that passes all understanding and the power of our sending love and hope into the world.

As I watched Father Jacob and Mother Amanda during Eucharist, I experienced something that has happened only a few times in my life. For a fleeting moment, I felt at one not only with my church family but also with all creation. The feeling of unity transcended time and space. I knew in my heart and soul and mind that we are all one and we are connected in mysterious ways that float around us and at times through us.

In 1996 the Reverend Gary Jones mentioned in a spiritual formation class the concept of thin places, where the veil between heaven and earth is close to transparent. He mentioned the Scottish island of Iona, and within weeks I had planned a trip for my husband and me to Iona, Holy Island, Norwich, and Canterbury. In the next few years we also traveled to Assisi and Rome. We spent several weeks at a monastery in New Mexico.

Admittedly, for a few years I was an obsessive seeker of spiritual experiences in thin places. In recent years, I have found the divine in more ordinary places, such as my own back yard.

At the conclusion of my participation in St. Peter’s service on March 15, I looked out the window of my study at the unremarkable landscape of our almost barren pasture and the grayish brown trunks of oak trees. Everything looked dreary from the short days and long nights of winter.

The light grew a bit brighter outside, and I noticed in the yard a few patches of green growth crowned with small white flowers. The first white blooms of an azalea opened to the sun’s call. Then a blue bird lighted on a patch of green for a moment, as bright and resplendent a blue bird as I have ever seen. The bird was grounded for only a second, and then he took wing, up and up toward the Source of all light.

We will all be staring out our own windows in the next weeks. Not every moment of gazing will bring a transcendent experience, but perhaps most days we can notice at least one thing of beauty, one glimmer of the divine love that unites us all, transcending time and space.

Elizabeth Richardson