The REV. VICKI IX
Vicar, St. John’s Episcopal Church
Published: 7/24/2022 12:44:42 PM
People of faith rely on spiritual practices, some of which are as ancient as the faith itself. Many of us spend much of our lives seeking the wisdom of these practices to bring us closer to God. Part of my own spiritual journey includes 10 years of monastic life — a container for many of the spiritual practices such as lectio divina, Liturgy of the Hours and contemplation.
The last 10 years of my life have been spent reorienting myself to the sacredness of everyday life. Prayer with the Word is still central, but other surprising spiritual practices have emerged — things one wouldn’t automatically think of as holy. In the recent years of pandemic, racial reckoning, political insanity and climate crisis, these practices (and the grace of God) have kept me whole.
Yup. Washing, hanging and folding. This is the task I return to with gratitude when the world feels too much for any of us. Laundry has a beginning, a middle and an end. Unlike the stressful events that go on around us, I can solve the laundry. With a little soap, some hangers and a long kitchen counter, I get to channel the Creator and take the chaos of the laundry basket and make it into something ordered, fresh and clean. The world feels too big to sort, but I can handle colors and whites. When God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth was complete chaos, and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:1-2). The peace I feel as I smooth and turn and stack comes from the place in me that trusts in God. I am reminded that the Spirit is still hovering over our mess. And God’s will for us is good.
It’s a new term for me. I was not raised to grow things and we rent an apartment; so, it’s small pots instead of a real garden. As I talk to the flowers (yes, I am one of those people), I pull away what is no longer useful, what diverts water to waste. What seems like violence is actually a relief to the system. New buds come and open wide to feel the sun and welcome the bees. When I step outside to tend the summer flowers and herbs, I feel close to the God who has pruned me gently throughout my lifetime. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit (John 15:2). I lean into the One who sees a much bigger picture beyond time and sin and suffering. Because God has tended me with so much love, with all my frailties and follies, I trust that God is tending the whole garden in some way beyond my understanding.
This is simple stuff, surely, but these small tasks have become integral to my spiritual equilibrium. It’s all so different from living my life under a rule and a prioress. When I lived in that small Benedictine community, I was so eager to learn the mystical, the ancient practices that would make God come near. After 10 years in a monastery, I thought I understood the holiness of ora et labora — work and prayer. Only now, living through the events of our time, have I discovered God hiding in plain sight in our laundry room and out on the back deck. I am less interested in the techniques of prayer and awake to the abiding Presence in the small and simple things — the places where we put our love each day.
About St. John’s Episcopal
The Rev. Vicki Ix is vicar of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ashfield. Two hundred years young, St. John’s is deeply engaged in the local and committed to God’s justice everywhere. The Sunday service is always at 10 a.m., in-person and online. In the summer months we worship outdoors under a tent, but the doors of our historic church are never locked. Find out more at: http://www.stjohnsashfield.org