al · tar
a table or flat-topped block used as the focus for a religious ritual, especially for making sacrifices or offerings to a deity.
Here I come, to this altar again, this place to meet God. Where trees sway, birds sing, mowers mow, wind whooshes. It’s here where I write, where I ponder, where I reflect. It’s me, my pen, and a blank piece of paper. It’s the blinking cursor on a white screen. The space I sit is where I slow down to notice details. Like the birds who come to and fro to this little church, their own altar of sorts. Her and her helpmate build a nest, ready for new life. They each take turns gathering and building, but always returning.
The altar is the place where I offer myself, the sacrifice I bring, the place of meeting the divine. The altar is the place I return to time and again to feed and to be fed. It’s an ebb and flow. A give and receive. We all have something to bring to this altar. We all have something to receive at this altar. Each of us. And, when I bring mine, this ordinary gift, this fumbling of myself, words and watercolor, this little pittance, God is right there to meet me. In my consistent returning, deep in my Spirit, I hear, “You didn’t think I only live in a church building, did you?”
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”
– Genesis 28:16-22
Consider the place(s) in your life where you give and receive? Is it easy or difficult to name this place an altar; a meeting place of God? Allow your acceptance or resistance to be your prayer.
When does giving come naturally for you? In order to offer yourself in this life-giving way, what (good things) do you have to say no to (Ex: time with friends, volunteering, reading, etc.) Notice how you receive from giving of yourself sacrificially.
An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, by Barbara Brown Taylor