Monday, November 28, 2011

The Miracle of an Ordinary Day

It was beginning winter,
An in-between time,
The landscape still partly brown:
The bones of weeds kept swinging in the wind,
--Theodore Roethke

I’m feeling a bit in-between today, still living in the echo of a great Thanksgiving but also knowing just how far off the holidays are, some twenty four days to be exact and counting.  Feels like a long way to go.

In-between: times in life when we have already left the station but have yet to arrive at our final destination, days filled with anticipation and wonder or anxiety and impatience.  All depends upon how we view these great chunks of time set squarely in the middle of “Been there, done that” and “I’m finally here!” 

Nature is in-between in early December. The grass is brown and lies matted down.  Plants have pulled within for a long winter’s rest.  The birds have flown south and the light of day is flat and diffuse and short. The earth waits for the first snowstorm to blow in but not just yet, not today, as fall wanes and winter has yet to knock at the door.  We’re living in-between.

In-between is actually the place humans live almost all of the time.  Pushing through school on a quiet Monday afternoon.  Driving to work on a mellow Friday morning.  Making lunches for the kids at the kitchen counter for the 1,000th time.  Gently sidling up to our spouse in bed and hearing her quiet breaths, as you have for so many evenings.  Sleepily standing in line at Dunkin Donuts and muttering for the umpteenth time: “black, two sugars, medium”.  Guess what? This is in fact our life, most of life, the overwhelming truth of our existence. In-between. But how do we see this?  Is it a miracle or is it merely mundane?

Though our mind and spirit is want to remember in sharp detail the big days of life: a joyous wedding, a happy birth, a heart breaking death, or some dramatic personal victory, the truth is that we mortals spend most of our moments in ordinary time, regular time, just normal time.  Like Thursday, December 1st at 11:35 am or February 11th at 2 pm or June 9th at 6 pm.  The temptation is to view this in-between time with impatience, to want to leap over the more ho-hum aspects of daily life, to skip our vegetables and go straight for desert. Are we there yet? Nope, still living in-between. And just maybe that’s ok, even good.

One of the disciplines of claiming a faith in God is having a belief which allows us to see each and every day as special, extraordinary even, but not for any amazing event.  No. Instead faith asks us give thanks just because one ordinary day is here for the taking and the living, all delivered as a no-strings attached gift from a generous God.  As the Psalmist wrote, “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”   

Possessing such a grateful and open attitude about the in-between is not easy. We thank the Creator for a holy day and holiday, vacation, Christmas, a birthday, an anniversary. Yahoo! But can we also embrace today as sacred too?  All the other days?  Our hungry spirits may clamor for a quick fix, a jolt, or the rush of just one day like no other.  Yet the calendar never lies.  The reality is that most of the time our time is finally lived in-between.  

I like singer songwriter James Taylor’s take on the in-between.  “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. Any fool can do it. There ain't nothing to it. Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill. But since we're on our way down we might as well enjoy the ride.”

So happy day!  There won’t be another day like this day, ever, ever again.  It’s an in-between gift. Maybe that’s the real secret of knowing an ordinary extraordinary life. Just one day at a time. 



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