Karen Horneffer-Ginter
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God and Details

At one point, I really appreciated the quote, "God is in the details." I liked its encouragement to offer care and attention to the small tasks of everyday life, and to see the sacred in what can all too easily be discounted as secular and mundane.

Last year, however, I found myself squinting in disbelief when I came across these words again. "What a minute," I thought, with a sense of betrayal, "If God is in the details, then why does it seem like all the details of life are keeping me from God!"

I could feel myself looking upward with my remark, offering a challenge to the puffy clouds spotting the sky, and I felt quite serious in my accusation. Time and time again, I've experienced how the piling up of phone messages and email messages and dirty clothes and dishes and bills and errands and other random tasks associated with home and work and community involvements reach the point where they start to drive me nuts.

I'm not sure if there's a certain tipping point where the relationship between God and details shifts. With 5 details, maybe even 25, God is there. But after 26, and certainly 98, especially when they all co-exist in the same day, forget it-- at that point, they only become an obstacle to experiencing any sort of sacredness.

I've often wished that writing about this predicament would make it simpler to manage-- or would, somehow, make it go away. I'm sure it does help in some ways. It's made me more aware of the choices I want to make, and has encouraged me to be bolder in setting limits and being more conscious in how I approach the day. For better or for worse, I think it also highlights the discrepancy between the "God" and "God-less moments," causing me to ache for the former when they're not there, and feeling less tolerance for the latter in knowing that it doesn't have to be that way.

When I think of what allows for God to be in the details, with whatever meaning that phrase might hold for each of us, it seems to involve moving at a pace we can keep up with, and having some space to pause and breathe fully throughout the day. These ingredients allow us to be present in what we're doing, and when we're present, sacredness can also be present.

Maybe the most we can do is take good field notes about our experiences, and try to notice: "When does it become too much?" "When do I need to simplify" "When does the volume of things, even good things, cancel out what's gained from their presence?"

I always love hearing people's insights and wisdom about this issue. What have you learned about what's true for you?

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Nov. 1, 2012:  Why We Stink at Taking Breaks
Sep. 1, 2012:  Meditating with Dinosaurs: Really?
Aug. 1, 2012:  Inspecting Our Busyness
Jul. 2, 2012:  The Breaks We Miss
Jun. 4, 2012:  God and Details
May. 1, 2012:  Stop! Please?
Apr. 1, 2012:  50 Ways to Take a Break

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