When the lake is a millpond and the clouds and mountains are reflected on the surface it can be hard to know whether the canoe you are paddling is floating on the water or skimming across the sky. Which image is real, I wonder? The mountains or their reflection or both?
Considering how much time I spend preparing and leading worship it may surprise you to learn that for me moments of true worship are really, quite rare. Still some activities are more conducive to feeling like worshipping than others. For me the quietness and rhythmic action of paddling a canoe creates an inner stillness and attentiveness that sometimes makes me open to worship.
The worship that many of us experience when we come together for church services is a little more like a trip to the gym for me. These spiritual exercises are designed to build our stamina. They help us focus on something other than ourselves for just long enough for a rare moment of true worship to occur as an unexpected gift.
Even without going into training, worship will sometimes creep upon even the most rational of people. A stirring piece of music, the laughter of a child, the power of a wave or a magnificent sunset can make us sensitive to a presence that stirs us both to awe and gratitude. Such moments are important because they reconnect us to the world. When we practice thankfulness for all we receive from the earth we learn to value it and what we value, we care for. Worship is a powerful reminder that this beautiful earth is both a gift and a responsibility and how we live in it really matters; not only for ourselves but also for our children and grandchildren. Often it is only what we have learnt to appreciate and value that we find we are prepared to make sacrifices to care for. Worship is one way to grow in thankfulness.
Worship that stirs our emotions without challenging the way that we live falls short of being true worship, but equally worship that fails to touch our hearts is unlikely to ever move us to change and grow. For me fruit of worship is love in action so perhaps in its own way the reflection is as real as the mountain, just as much a gift, because together they change our perspective on a familiar scene and make us see things differently.