What gets you up and out of bed in the morning? More often than not, Laura and I receive an "invitation" from our pets. There are three cats (Charlie Chaplin, Oona O'Neil and Oscar Wilde) and a dog (Sophie) that we share our lives with over at the rectory. All of the animals are good souls, and each has their unique personality. They all share one thing in common, though.
They are early risers.
We are, too, mind you; though not as early nowadays as we have been in the recent past. Still, animals are tend more toward routine and habit...and the fact that the human companions in their lives might want to sleep past 6:30 AM is pretty much a nuisance.
So, at some point in the morning, the dance begins. Sophie gets up from her pad on my side of the bed-or from the floor on Laura's side and-we assume at the invitation of the cats-begins a game of "jingle tag" with our domestic felines. They run through the room, sometimes across the bed, and she chases them whilst her collar tags jingle. If that game fails, then Sophie resorts to "bump the bed" and starts to jump and hit the side of the bed with her front paws. Again, the jingle.
Of course, there are dozens of variations on this morning theme. And Laura and I do from time to time convince the pets that ten more minutes will not mean that they need to resign themselves to starvation.
But eventually, the need to rise takes root in me or in Laura. One of us gets up, goes to the feeding stations of the pets and lays down the morning meal. Personally, I find that I enjoy this time in the shadows of the birth of the day. For one thing, it is always a pleasure to bring pleasure to other beings. Our cats and dog love their food and with the cats singing and Sophie chomping I have a sense of peace that at least one thing was accomplished in the day that had the return of offering real benefit to an other's health and well-being.
That, often, is what gets me up in the morning. It gets me moving. It also shapes my day.
Reflecting on that early morning moment, I realize that it is not only the cats that derive satisfaction from my getting up to feed them. I get satisfaction as well.
I get the sense of connection to others. I get a sense of being an essential part of some one's world. I get a sense of responsibility. Ultimately, by seeing to an other's needs before my own, I get a better perspective on life in general and the roles and relationships I fulfill in society with God and my neighbors. Now, if I could only preserve that beneficence into being so supportive of wife, church and community!
Why talk about that morning routine when my titled topic is inspiration?
As I worked on this aspect of the stewardship vision, I came to understand and accept Grace as God's favor toward us...no problem...and to see Faith as our response (our "yes" to God's "Yes" to us).
But what motivates us to make that connection? What does it look like, feel like, taste like?
It arises, I am finding, from that place where motivations takes root. In the semi-conscious moments when you realize deep, deep down that "something needs to be done." Like an itch that needs scratching, the desire to move and the motivation to act become one and the next moment finds you crossing the room, getting out of bed, turning around-making the choice to act in response to a stimulus.
Too often, we think that inspiration is something that only happens to special people. Like Van Gogh or Edison, inspiration is reserved for the brilliant. Not so...it is for us, and it is not just about finding the spirit to paint a great painting or invent the light bulb. Inspiration is in the day-to-day connections we make in our lives to our fellow travelers in this great creation of God's love for us.
I found something, a prayer, in a not-too-often visited corner of the Book of Common Prayer. Frankly, we don't dedicate too many new churches nowadays, but in the liturgy there is a section wherein the Bishop, a Warden of the parish and the Rector/minister in charge each offer words that both respond to the inspiring hand of God active in founding this new community and at the same time tender words of self-dedication to a life of faith.
Everliving Father, watchful and caring, out source and our end: All that we are and all that we have is yours. Accept us now, as we dedicate [ourselves to the praise of your Name,] to ask your forgiveness, to know your healing power, to hear your Word and to be nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son. Be present always to guide and to judge, to illumine and bless your people.
Lord Jesus Christ, make this a temple of your presence and a house of prayer. Be always near us when we seek you in this place. Draw us to you, when we come alone and when we come with others, to find comfort and wisdom, to be supported and strengthened, to rejoice and give thanks. May it be here, Lord Christ, that we are made one with you and with one another, to that our lives are sustained for your service.
Holy Spirit, open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts, that we may grow closer to you through joy and suffering. Be with us in the fullness of your power as new members are added to your household, as we grow in grace through the years, when we are joined in marriage [and covenanted relationships], and, at the last, when we are committed into the Father's hands.
What I get from that, and from the prayerful, incessant and blessed routine of getting up each morning to reaffirm covenant with our pets, is that understanding that inspiration is not just restricted to those supernova moments of revelation when we know something new and great is about to happen through us. It is also, and perhaps most powerfully, found in the simple, the mundane, the routine experience of being in active relationship with others and with God.
It really is as near to us are our next breath...
"Breathe in me breath of God...."