While I was eating lunch at Taco Bell today, I began thinking about the custom of saying grace. It’s a wonderful custom, meant to bring divine awareness and blessing into the world, which is something very useful. It seems to me that the trend is just the opposite–for the world to invade sacred space. I’ve seen churches where no one thinks about saying grace even in their main fellowship meals.
But as I was eating my taco, savoring its taste, (and no, I didn’t say grace, either) I realized that the “blessings” we use are essentially ego-centric. The purpose of saying grace is to bless *our* food, *our* nourishment, *our* fellowship, yada, yada, yada. It not only reinforces the idea that God is “there”, but it very much reinforces the idea that “we” are here and “we” are important.
The Jewish idea of saying grace is far different–every traditional Jewish blessing begins, “Barukh Atah, Adonai, Eloheynu Melekh haOlam…” which means, *blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe…” Blessings are directed to God, not funneled down upon ourselves. Besides blessings at meals, there are traditional blessings to God for almost every conceivable activity.
I thought briefly about how almost everything in pagan Greece was dedicated
to the gods–the performances of the tragedies and comedies of Greek theater were considered acts of worship, offerings to the gods, no matter how ribald, silly, or tragic, and going to the theater **was** going to church. Similarly, the Olympic Games were held to honor the gods–the festival of exploring the limits of the human body was an offering of sweat and celebration for the enjoyment of the divine Olympians.
Both Greek polytheism and Jewish monotheism had the idea that awareness of the divine should permeate all human life and activity.
I’m a panentheist–I believe that God both permeates and inconceivably transcends the Universe, or to put it another way, that God is the Ground of Being, and everything that has being, arises from this unmanifested Source. The Bible says we are the Body of Christ. We are his hands and feet, and everything else–although we do not believe it.
I wondered if instead asking God to bless my food for me, it might be more fitting for me to consciously dedicate all my actions to God, who is enjoying them not on Mount Olympus, but right here, in this body. When eating a taco, I’m his mouth, teeth, tongue and taste buds–I am the vehicle through which God enjoys salsa. If I drive home, I’m the vehicle through which God enjoys my vehicle. When I post an entry here, God enjoys blogging like a fool who thinks he knows something about God!
If I forgive someone, I’m the conduit of divine forgiveness. Jesus said, “if you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven, and if you do not forgive them, they aren’t” (Jn 20.23). Amazing the agony we’ve put into “interpreting” something so simple that our response to it should be “Duh!” (Or when we realize the privilege, “Wow!” Or “Frimmin’!“) God forgives when Jesus proclaims forgiveness. Or when any of us do. And Jesus said we are to follow him and realize the same union with the Father he had (Jn 17.22).
God created the Universe for his own enjoyment, and the Eternal One lives in space-time through us. What if this awareness–that God does through us, lives through us, works through us, was really the guiding prinicple of our lives?
How do we want God to work, to be? Do that. Do you want God to forgive? then forgive. Should Christ be respectable? St. Paul said that we shouldn’t unite his “members” with prostitutes. (1 Cor 6.15) Yep, we are *those* parts, too.
What if we’re the ganglia and nerves of God–the conduits of spiritual awareness and divine action here in the Matrix? What if we could get rid of the worry of being our “selves” and just be the embodied energy of God in the world? What if I could die to the burden of maintaining my “self” and become truly alive, a living space for God to be in?
Halfway through my taco, I offered its taste to the Infinite. He was enjoying it already.