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Finding God in the Mundane

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I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but this term I’ve found school not something I’m interested in. I love reading and have read almost 2000 pages worth of material the past couple of months. Marks are pretty decent so that speaks to some of the effort (and God’s grace!) in the struggle to get stuff done. But deadlines and assignments – I have no interest. It’s sort of like writer’s block, only I have a lot to say about everything I am learning both within and outside the classroom. Alas the time has come to buckle down and write a paper. It’s only five pages – why is this so hard? I need to write to get the creative juices flowing and the readings for this course have spurred me onto thoughts in all sorts of direction. So perhaps this reflection will encourage me in the reflection that actually needs to be written.

I had two conversations recently with people that have shaped my thinking in this.

The first was actually not a conversation but more something I read. This person described the boredom with the latest thrill in life. This person bounces from one thing to the next, seemingly seeking intense excitement and is easily disappointed. Each new thrill provides a momentary bliss, but then life moves on and that bliss is not eternal. I remember talking with some recovering drug addicts once – they said that no trip is better than the first one and they spent their life chasing after something that would provide the thrill that that first hit gave them.

The thing is: life is mundane.

The alarm clock blares in your face. The coffee pot brings a drink to help your drowsiness disappear. You sit in traffic. You work a job that hopefully you enjoy but inevitably has moments of monotomy. Dinner needs to be made, dishes clean, a load of laundry.

This is life.

there are amazing moments. My week has been full of them. Sunday night was an incredible service with Martyn Joseph singing and playing (he hugged me after the service! hehe, I admit I hold him in too high esteem! But I did enjoy him talking). Then there was my sporadic dancing in joy shouting “There’s no God like Jehovah!” around my friend’s condo with three cats looking at me like I had truly gone mad. Then receiving a lovely email from one of my professors who had an impact on me and her affirmation of me and the way forward.

But there are still dishes in the sink, a paper to be written, emails to return, phone calls to make (which reminds me!).

I wonder – Can we truly experience the excitement and joy that this life brings unless we learn to find God in the mundane? I am reminded of Brother Lawrence who prayed as he washed dishes and sought to honour God in this menial task. I am reminded of a good friend who seeks to make each person he comes across with smile – he takes his coffee “double double stirred to the left three and a half times”. Sometimes stirred to the right just to mix it up every now and then. Another friend of mine wrote me once to say while she was rocking her crying baby to sleep in the middle of the night she prayed for me. These are people who embrace the mundane and look for God there.

The second conversation was with someone who had an all encompassing experience of God’s overwhelming love and presence. So much so that this person questioned why it took so long to see this.

I wonder if we can truly handle the overwhelming joy of delighting in God and the passion that comes with it eternally? I think about the times of bliss in my life…. awesome times, no doubt. But if those moments were eternal, I’d be dancing in joy instead of writing my papers and cleaning the dishes. I think the passion would be so overwhelming that I could stand it.

And so maybe that’s why God gives us glimpses amid the mundane. To give us glimpses of His kingdom and a life totally abandoned to him to keep us on this journey. To encourage us when we are stuck in the miry clay of this world, toiling for our needs and fighting our various battles. Maybe God gives us what we can handle now, while training us for the day when we see him face to face.

And maybe, just maybe, as we find God in all the mundane places of our lives, we begin to experience the eternal bliss that we long for! Maybe when we see God in everyone we meet and when Christ becomes our constant guide and companion, maybe we will exude a joy that is not containable. And maybe the mundane stops being mundane.

Anne Sexton seemed to get this in her poem “Welcome Morning”

There is joy

in all:

in the hair I brush each morning

in the Cannon towel, newly washed

that I rub my body with each morning,

in the chapel of eggs I cook

each morning,

in the outcry from the kettle

that heats my coffee

each morning,

in the spoon and the chair

that cry, “Hello there, Anne”

each morning,

the godhead of the table

that I set my silver, plate, cup upon

each morning.

 

All this is God,

right here in my pea-green house

each morning

and I mean,

though often forget,

to give thanks,

to faint down by the kitchen table

in a prayer of rejoicing

as the holy birds at the kitchen window

peck into their marriage of seeds.

 

So while I think of it,

let me paint a thank-you on my palm

for this God, this laughter of the morning,

lest it go unspoken.

 

The joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,

dies young.

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