Dreyer, Elizabeth. Earth Crammed with Heaven: A Spirituality of Everyday Life. New York: Paulist Press, 1994.
Elizabeth Dreyer, professor of Religious Studies, has been a member of the Fairfield Faculty since 1999. Previous faculty appointments include the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota; the Catholic University of America, and The Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C. Dreyer is the author or editor of 9 books and numerous articles, chapters in books, and dictionary/encyclopedia entries. ((http://www.fairfield.edu/academic/profile.html?id=59 (accessed August 12, 2013)))
Earth Crammed with Heaven is a helpful exploration of how spirituality can be experienced in the everyday spaces of life—work, family, sexuality, and a contemplative approach to all of life. Elizabeth Dreyer is a Roman Catholic thinker who is writing to a Roman Catholic audience. It was interesting for me—a Protestant—to listen to this in-house conversation, given that I have grown up with the notion of the priesthood of all believers. However, it was a helpful read for the development of a quotidian spirituality. ((yes, I had to look up quotidian, too. It means “of or occurring every day; daily.” Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary))
Dreyer breaks down the dualism rampant in the Catholic church—and all of modernity—that created the sacred/secular, cleric/laity, spirit/body dichotomies that made spirituality in everyday life almost impossible. She articulates a clear theological framework of the Holy Spirit, creation and incarnation in Part One, and then applies this theology into the real-life spaces of everyday living.
“Equipped with these theological resources—Spirit, creation, and incarnation—we pursue our spiritual journeys in the ordinary and extraordinary happenings of everyday life.” ((Elizabeth Dreyer, Earth Crammed with Heaven: A Spirituality of Everyday Life (New York: Paulist Press, 1994), 64.))
Summary of salient points:
- We begin to see ourselves more and more as a part of the universe.
- To see ourselves as members of the human community rather than over against it.
- Membership in the human community immerses us in relationships of every stripe.
- Attention to quotidian experience underlines the importance of discovering each person’s unique path.
- One can begin one’s quest by attending to the desires of the heart, both personal and communal.
- In spite of a world that threatens to overwhelm us with violence, anxiety and anguish, can we learn to relax and enjoy?
- As Christians, we are offered Jesus, the incarnate God as model. I suggest that Jesus might best be seen in his simplicity.