Reading List: An Altar In The World

The mystics would say to find anything, you first must lose it. That makes all the sense in the world to me. Like it’s about getting ourselves out of the way first. By getting ourselves out of the way, it’s meant that we let go of all the ways we approach things and our preconceived thoughts. We’ve generally thought of things on a certain plane for so long, we can’t see a way to separate and see it as new.

But this is what they ask us to do. That we need to decentralize the importance of self in order to see a bigger piece of something. That is a lot to ask of us in the Western world. We have specialized in “me”. We operate in a world according to “me”. The abundance in our lives has been a wonderful thing and it has brought us so much, that while we can never complain, it brings another set of circumstances to work around as we search for peace and harmony in our lives.

In Barbara Brown Taylors book An Altar In The World, she delves deeply into a world of finding holiness in the everyday. Religion professor and former parish priest, Taylor has moved beyond the walls of her traditional theology, and began looking through a lens that she hadn’t looked through before. She let go of the confinements of thought and began her journey of finding God everywhere and in everything.

I love this quote from Taylor, “In the second place, too much speech about God strikes me as disrespectful. In the Upanishads, God is described as “Thou Before Whom All Words Recoil”. This sounds right to me. Anything I say about God will be inadequate. No matter how hard I try to say something true about God, the reality of God will eclipse my best words. The only reality I can describe with any accuracy is my own limited experience of what I think may be God: the more, the really real, the luminous web that holds everything in place”

Everyone is on a journey. Everyone is in a different place. Some gravitate to this stuff, stretching, reaching, scratching deeper in to their beliefs. Some don’t, and that’s OK. We all need the freedom and compassion to search in our own way without ridicule. Like Barbara Brown Taylor says, too much speech is disrespectful. To our brothers and sisters that we share this planet with, maybe we should just be good ears.

If you are looking for a good read and you are in a place to let go and look at things with a wider lens then check out An Altar In The World.


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