The Moon moving toward an opposition of Saturn today brings to mind the idea of liturgy. The word liturgy means something like a “public servant” or “public worship” or “sacred conduct.” Saturn was traditionally seen, when well placed, as a planet that related to religious piety and great contemplatives, people whose lives were what we might call “liturgical,” where the flow of daily life (Moon) reflects the psychological or spiritual commitments of the devotee (Saturn).
One thing that is too frequently missing in the “spiritual not religious” world is liturgical living. Even if the gestures are small or inconspicuous, when we take the time create ritual acts of devotion throughout our day, and when we mindfully perform and repeat those actions, we are bringing beliefs into action. As a result our lives take the shape of our beliefs and our beliefs the shape of our lives.
If “spiritual not religious” means “I do what I want,” or if it means “I am a deep thinker when it suits me,” or if it means “I believe in something but I don’t care to do anything about it,” then perhaps we should consider that it’s not as hip a phrase as we like to think it is.
Idealism of any kind becomes destructive when our lives do not make contemplative altars for our recurring thoughts. The small ways in which we order our living to reflect our convictions circulates the images of our beliefs, moving them through the total environment of our life like an irrigation system keeping an entire habitat vital.
When our lives express the liturgy of our beliefs we also carry our most charismatic beliefs with a different kind of certainty. The fiercest passions we have find a home and we aren’t as tempted to overcompensate for them…attempting to conquer others because our ideals have no homeland or resting place. Sacred images or ideas of any kind find their home in how we keep them alive in each and every day, in small and humble actions, so small we almost forget they are there, but especially when we fall short or the world falls short of them. Still we light our candles, or say our prayers, or go for our run, or write in our journal, or spend time in meditation or reading, or sing our goodnight songs or read our children their last book for the day, or we sit down for dinner together and turn off the TV.
One of my favorite practices is my simplest. Each morning I drink one cup of tea, and I light the candle on my desk to begin my work day. When the work day is finished I blow out the candle and commit not to work anymore. This simple action somehow spreads through my life each day, and though I can’t tell you exactly what this does for me, I know I love it and that it reminds me of why I’m doing what I’m doing with my life. There are times when I’m finishing simple actions or tasks throughout my day, and when I begin the task I think of lighting the candle, and when I’m finished I think of blowing it out, and this keeps me present.
Sometimes we mistake all of this for big fancy rituals and overstated ceremonies and conduct in our lives, all day long. We mistake costumed living for a way of life. This is why today the word “liturgy” stands out. The waking world is a political world, a social world, and the smallest rituals we make part of our lives move out into the world as acts of public service.
Today, let’s recommit ourselves to a few simple things we can do each day, to stay in the spirit of the way of eternal life…so that our acts become liturgical and our liturgy the face of a humble public servant.
Prayer: Fill the small spaces with prayers