Saturday, February 18, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Building an Altar for God

Each day of our lives, there is always a newness to the Living Word of God.  A few days ago, I noticed something I'd not particularly pondered in the familiar Old Testament Book of Genesis.  The account of Noah and the ark, concluding with the Lord saving creatures in His creation--well, I never noticed this one little line:

Noah built an altar for the Lord.

He did so in celebration.  Noah desired to honor and thank God for saving creation, for having the flood waters recede, for man's being once more firmly footed on dry land, for surviving when so many did not.

Then I read portions of Psalm 116:

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones....

This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit wonders at the Lord's love and patience for us.  Just the breath we take is good that God has done, let alone all the times we have been protected and provided for in ways we may not consciously notice.

Why is the death of God's faithful ones precious in His eyes?  I wonder at this and consider that God views spiritually, mystically, eternally; He sees into hearts and knows the depths of our souls.  The death is the dying to ourselves, the letting go of our insistences and self-convictions that we are somehow in control of creation and of our very lives.  Pride must die; humility must live.  Faith in God is precious to God and also to those around us who are affected by our lived example in the details of everyday life.

Perhaps our making a "return to the Lord" for all the good He has done for me resides in my faith in Him and very much in my desire and attempts to love God in Himself, as Himself, and loving others as God loves.  He loves us for ourselves.  He loves us and finds us precious because we are His to love.  

When we believe in God--simply believe He is our Lord and Savior, believe he is God--we please Him.  When we place God as our all and die to our own tendency to dominance and pride, we are all the more precious to God.

So each day I am considering in what ways I can build an altar for the Lord.

Yesterday I did so by driving two hours each way into civilization to spend an hour with a daughter who does not keep in contact much.  In fact, I would not have known she was in the vicinity had it not been for my inept attempt to leave a Valentine message of my love for her, always, on her voicemail....and a spark of intuition from the Holy Spirit that gave a nudge within that maybe she was near.

Today I am going to build a ceiling cover for an attic space opening.  This will be a type of literal "altar" for God in thanksgiving for His love and protection.  Yesterday when dropping the daughter off at the airport, a desire to give her a loving hug good-bye distracted me, and for the first and hopefully only time ever in my driving history, I did not put the truck in "park".  Thankfully, my daughter noticed; what could have been a horrible injury to someone removing luggage from their trunk in front of us, was averted, for my truck was on a slow roll.

But more so than thanksgiving to God, building an altar to God is an act of creaturely love for our Creator.  To me, constructing a wood ceiling board covering for the attic access opening represents the portal through which our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls have a spiritual opening to His Real Presence: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This reality is like an ark experience, all the time; we are ever loved by God and His mercies are endless.

We just open the portal within, that opening of eternal access from our temporal lives to His mystical realm, any time and hopefully, increasingly, all the time.  We can build an altar for God with a thought, with an object-metaphor, with words, with our hearts exuding loving affection, and with unseen faith in Him.

We can build an altar for God with a kind word or smile, with a reminder that we can love others no matter how they feel about us, that we can learn and help others learn in our lives in which all is a learning process--learning to love and loving learning to love God in Himself and others as He loves.

The cabinet installers are coming soon.  The one young man, learning the trade, had difficulty accurately marking where to drill for cabinet door knobs.  He also had difficulty drilling a hole on the mark made--mis-marked in most cases.  How do workers learn a trade if not by practice but also being taught ways in which to maximize success?  It is like loving God and others--we learn as we go along; we learn on-the-job of living life itself.

So I am praying that he will not take offense, nor the young man who is already extremely skilled.  I admit that I've put off installing knobs in the bathroom cabinets; I know how difficult.  So I got a template to use, to make sure the marks are accurate to begin with.  And I will use a tiniest of drill bits to first make a pilot divot hole, and then use the more difficult 1/8" drill bit to bite into the little divot hole and thus hope (and pray) for better accuracy!

I removed the many knobs not measured correctly so that perhaps the young man will see visually, or will be willing to use the template in future rather than a tape measure for such precision marking.  We shall see.  If I could impart how many times I've had to re-do construction aspects in here, or make amends and learn more tips on how to better do many things in life, perhaps he will see that we truly are in this life together, and helping others to learn and to succeed is all about love.

Maybe building an altar to the Lord has to do with building a holy and thankful offering in all ways: an altar of Love.

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