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Home : Feed Your Spirit : Your Life, Better
8 ways to wake up to God

Written by Rev. Kate Huey

Barbara Brown Taylor's book, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), is available in bookstores and on

Like Francis of Assisi, 'read the world' with reverence.
Watch Franco Zeffirelli's exquisite film about Francis of Assisi: Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Francis was especially good at encountering God in the beauty of nature, Barbara Brown Taylor says: he "read the world as reverently as he read the Bible. For him, a leper was as kissable as a bishop's ring, a single bird as much a messenger of God as a cloud full of angels."

Listen to your body.

Wisdom isn't all in your head. Listen to the wisdom of your own body, too, in order to gain spiritual wisdom.

Taylor says: "You need a body that gets hungry, feels pain, thrills to pleasure, craves rest. This is your physical pass into the accumulated insight of all who have preceded you on this earth." 

Set up an altar in your heart.

Set up a little altar in your heart, Taylor says, and stop doing what you are doing long enough to see where you are, who you are there with, and how awesome the place is. By doing this, you can "flag one more gate to heaven," and then consider "saying a blessing" before moving on to the next thing on your schedule.

Take your dog for a walk.

Take your dog for a walk, if you're lucky enough to have one. And if you're especially lucky and have a terrier, stop to notice the earth itself (that's where they get their name), taking time to smell the green, green grass, and checking out what's happening right beneath your feet. (Do not take your cell phone with you on this walk; it will only distract you from what is much more important.) 

Turn off your television and computer two hours before bedtime.

Turn off your television and walk away from the computer at least two hours before bedtime. Notice any quiet darkness outside your window, or even in a place of solitude in your house.

Go outside and look at the stars.

It may sound obvious, but go outside and look at the stars.  If it was good enough for Abraham, it's good enough for anyone who wants to be reminded of the promises of an ever-ancient, ever new God. Ask yourself where you have encountered God today. 

Sing...and listen to your voice.

When you're sitting in that quiet, still place in the evening, sing softly, out loud, the beautiful song, "Abide with Me." (When you read those words, you'll understand why.)  Notice the beauty of your own voice in song, and give thanks to God for life itself.

Live as if the earth were thick with the divine.

Live, Taylor writes, as if the "earth is so thick with divine possibility that it is a wonder we can walk anywhere without cracking our shins on altars." 


Barbara Brown Taylor's book, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), is available in bookstores and on

The Rev. Kate Huey is minister for covenantal stewardship, Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ.

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