“Detectives of Divinity”

Written by on October 17, 2012

Kathleen Norris writes a gem of a little book entitled The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Woman’s Work” (Paulist Press, 1998).  By “quotidian” she means that which belongs to the everyday or the commonplace. She reminds us that it is amidst the ordinary stuff of our lives that we must be attentive to and expectant of God’s loving presence. This is no easy work. For more often the everydayness of our lives leads to distraction ratherthan attention to God. Yet she encourages the reader to simply consider God’s presence throughout Scripture and see where it is the God often shows up. Ponder her words here in light of your weekly activities.

The Bible is full of evidence that God’s attention is indeed fixed on the little things.  But this is not because God is a Great Cosmic Cop, eager to catch us in minor transgressions, but simply because God loves us—loves us so much that the divine presence is revealed even in the meaningless workings of daily life.  It is in the ordinary, the here-and-now, that God asks us to recognize that the creation is indeed refreshed like dew-laden grass that is “renewed in the morning” (Ps 90:5), or to put it in more personal and also theological terms, “our inner nature is being renewed every day” (2 Cor 4:16).  Seen in this light, what strikes many modern readers as the ludicrous attention to detail in the book of Leviticus, involving God in the minutiae of daily life—all the cooking and cleaning of a people’s domestic life—might be revisioned as the very love of God.  A God who cares so much as to desire to be present to us in everything we do.[1]

God’s attention is indeed fixed on the little things. Are we awake and free to discover such a possibility? Amidst our lives of supermarkets and trash days, of football games and phone calls, of deadlines and family celebrations and parking spots, are we paying attention? How are we doing at “re-visioning” our daily lives with an attentiveness and anticipation that God’s love is indeed expressed in the everyday stuff of our lives? Barbara Brown Taylor described this prayerful attention by suggesting that at some point she became a “detective of divinity, collecting evidence of God’s genius and admiring the tracks left for me to follow.”[2] May we all be open to becoming such detectives of divinity.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord,

teach me your paths.

Lead me in your truth, and teach me,

for you are the God of my salvation;

for you I wait all day long.

Psalm 25:4-5


[1] Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries:  Laundry, Liturgy and “Woman’s Work,” (New York/Mahwah, NJ:  Paulist Press, 1998), 21-22.
[2] Barbara Brown Taylor, The Preaching Life, (Boston, MA:  Cowley, 1993), 15.

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