In my adult years, I found myself conducting a spiritual version of this exercise. As a child of the church, I grew up with a sturdy frame for my faith . . . with all the customs and hymns and Churchspeak that demonstrated my particular style of faith. Now, I can't knock many of the religious practices I grew up with. As I've said before, I'm a ritual junkie, and the customs of my faith fulfill and sustain me. That said, I reached a point (sometime in college, naturally), when I had grown so comfortable with the same old frame that I wasn't sure I knew the truth about the God at the center of it. I had lost Him in there somewhere.
So I began to trim. I stepped back from playing the leader in Bible studies. I grew less inclined to talk about my faith and more inclined to keep quiet and listen. I even (sorry, Mom and Dad!) started skipping church more often than I attended it. I kept cutting and cutting until I was completely alone with God—my flawed, lovely, spiritual self lying bare before Him. And it wasn't until I felt grounded in this inspirational relationship again that I began to let my practice grow back.
It's nice to tell this story about my spiritual growth. I generally keep it to myself, afraid that I'll be judged as a wayward sheep, but then "wayward" isn't the word, is it? How can it be when God is always beside me, willing to hold me steady while I cut all the trappings away if that's what it takes for my feeble little eyes to finally see Him?
My worship begins here,
here in this still, simple place
where You are--
here at the core inside of my words,
inside of my songs,
inside of my spiritual schedule.
Let my faith be a bloom,
the petals of my practice
fanning out around the Center that sustains them,
that inspires and informs them.
Be my first, last, and middle,
so that when the music dies down
and the crowd scatters,
I still remember why I came.
I came to be with You.