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Living in Spiritual, and Therefore Material, Reality

It can seem as though the spiritual world and the material world are in tension. That we can have one or the other. We can’t serve both God and mammon, Jesus says. We can’t walk the narrow way and the broad way simultaneously.

But I’ve been realizing lately that the material world is not in opposition to the spiritual world. Rather, the material world is subsidiary to the spiritual world. If we only pay attention to the material, then we miss out on the spiritual. But if we pay attention to the spiritual, we get the material as well. 

Tish Harrison Warren recently described the way spiritual reality can enhance our experience of the material world:

“The more I have tried to seek God — the more I reach for truth, beauty and mystery that I know exceeds my grasp — the more bright, vivid and vital the things of earth become. Not to say that they are always beautiful and lovely. The sorrow, sin and ache of the world — the violence of nature itself, which is “red in tooth and claw,” as Tennyson put it — is clearer to me each year. Yet, as I grow in faith and in years, the lusciousness of this earth of ours, the glory in even the most ordinary of backyards, the astounding excessiveness of the natural world feels more and more urgent for me to regard and honor. There is no dimming of the things of earth, only a deeper sense of call to them. Christianity, to me, is nothing if not sensual.”

Easter is not a time for putting the material against the spiritual but rather for understanding their proper order. Spiritual and material are not an either/or. They are both/and, but only when the spiritual comes first.

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