This morning I sat on the green couch in the middle of our living area and played gently on the guitar while I waited for the pot on the stove to boil. “Be Lifted Up” is an old favorite of mine, and not just because the picking pattern is easy enough for my non-dominant hand to manage. Its message is simple, and its melody lulls my dizzy mind and restless heart into a more contemplative state. And it is corporate, so even when I am playing and singing by myself on the green couch in our tiny apartment on a Sunday morning while my husband is at work, I still feel a part of the whole body of Christ.
As I sat on the couch all alone, waiting for my tea to steep, I lit the soy candle on the coffee table and spoke aloud a brief invitation for God to show up. This is how I turn our little tan IKEA table into an altar.
To anyone else, the table looks like an ordinary coffee table with coasters and knickknacks–a place to rest a heavy beverage or weary foot. But to me, it is also a place to rest a heavy burden or weary heart.
The objects were chosen with care and carry special meaning. They are reminders to me of the journey I am taking. They are touchstones, guideposts. They help me keep going.
First, there is the clay plate that my husband and I bought on our honeymoon to St. George, Utah from the little artists’ co-op we wandered through on our way to Bryce Canyon. It is red like the ground it came from, fired hard in the kiln and painted with the constant reminder to experience the present moment.
Next, there is the little ceramic container that my dear friend gave me after I expressed my deepest desire to have more “time” in a season of life that was spinning out of control with responsibilities and demands I just could not maintain. It reminds me that time is a gift; I must choose carefully how to spend it.
Then there is the soy candle that I light as a sign and reminder to myself that I am in the presence of Divine Light and Love. It burns cleanly and purely, and it calls my attention back to the center with its flickering heat and strong aroma.
And finally, there is my cup of tea, steeping in the freshly heated water, waiting to awaken my sense of taste and smell. I hold the mug in both hands and feel the heavy ceramic warm against my palms. The tea grounds me in the present moment, calling my attention with its soothing flavor. It calms my body as I feel the stress and tension drip off onto the couch and dissipate with the steam rising from the surface of the cup.
I am in church.