The farmers markets are my favorite place on the planet. And if I were not a Christian, say an atheist or a good, old fashioned pagan, I would consider farmer’s markets my form of church, like so many do hiking or yoga.
At a farmer’s market recently there was a mushroom-seller. He did not sell mushrooms as much as he sold little, take-home, mushroom farms. You buy this massive block of white matter which is a huge mushroom root. Then you take it home, spritz it with water, keep in in the right location and from time to time, harvest new mushrooms from it for your omelets and risotto.
As he was explaining this marvelous wonder (I LOVE mushrooms on toast with a bit of tarragon and a dash of heavy cream and cayenne ) it occurred to me that the spiritual life is so similar.
We have this mass of matter we call All Saints – so many people around us, before us, in earth beneath us; who have formed a mass of Christianity – like that big mushroom block-base. And then we work to set up the best growing situation for the mushrooms, or the spiritual, life by intentionally allowing for what conditions best support growth. For the mushrooms: what is the best shadow, the best moisture, the best location, the best room in the house for the best yield? And in the spiritual life, I notice the same thing – what is the best situation for our spiritual lives to grow? What contributes to my ability to hear and see and feel God? What cuts against it? What are the best conditions for my spiritual life to thrive and what things in my life work against my centeredness in God?
I’ll give you an example. My best prayer time is in the early morning. After coffee and a shower but before I touch my cell phone. As I speak with other Christians and spiritual leaders they say the same thing. The second I reach for that phone something tender and lovely with God withers and begins to rot and dry out. It’s like if your wife or husband reached for their phone while you were leaning over to kiss them. (And I bet that happens a lot too!)
If I touch my phone, I will look at texts, look at emails, look at phone messages and my inner-slavedriver – working in tandem with my inner-fear-based-child kick into gear with a whip, a whimper and a cattle prod “GET TO WORK!!!” answer, respond, work, fix, please, impress… and any hope of prayers and meditation are dashed on the rocks of American work-productivity.
So my phone stays dark and closed in the early morning. If a church pastoral emergency rings then that is a special number and special ring tone- and I will jump on that call, but no emails, no texts, no triggers upon which for my insecurities to inflame. Better to sit with Jesus for a while and get my fill, calm my soul, so that when I finally do begin to answer emails and texts and phone calls, I am doing that work as a well, centered, person.
We pray for world peace. Perhaps spending early, dark, spritzed and moist time with God is the only way to participate in such important work. It is not hard to see, within seconds, the difference between a well-prayed person and an ego-driven person. What is hard work, is being well and centered so that we bear life and love into this noisy world, full as it is with egos pushing agendas like strollers.
Mushrooms are so soft. So might we be. And mushrooms are strong. So might we be. And mushrooms are still…