This week, let’s try May Sarton’s practice. “I spend the first 20 minutes of my morning walking the garden looking for miracles.”
Garden, around the block, in the park, through the back yard.
What does it mean to sanctify the ordinary? To navigate and experience and embrace—literally and figuratively—the world we live in.
Barry Lopez wrote that “The purpose of such attentiveness is to gain intimacy, to rid yourself of assumption.” I like that… and there is no doubt (I know from my experience) that we carry the weight of assumption; in other words, seeing what we want, or “assume” we ought to see.
As a boy, stories from the Bible were a staple in my education. Remember the Old Testament story about Moses, on a mountain in a desolate place, on the edge of gloom? A bush begins to burn. And a voice speaks from that burning bush. “Take off your shoes,” it said. “You are on holy ground.”
Now, in the church of my youth, this was not suggestion. This was God after all, so it was a command to be broken at great peril. Because, if God is holy, show some respect. If not, you’re going to get SMOTE. (I can still hear the severe tone in our pastor’s voice. This taking the shoes off wasn’t meant to make us smile.)
I now believe that those words were not a command at all.
I believe they were an invitation.
Moses… You are on holy ground. Therefore, in order to touch, to feel this ground, let’s remove whatever blocks or inhibits or prevents.
Take off your shoes. Savor the ground. The ordinary ground. The hiding place for the holy.
Yes indeed… the purpose of such attentiveness is to gain intimacy.
Grounded… literally sinking into life, allowing us to be fully alive smack dab in the middle.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin reminds us, “One could say that the whole of life lies in seeing.” Yes. Seeing and living, sacramentally: the sacrament of the present moment.
Let’s remember Joseph Campbell’s observation. “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive—of the rapture of being alive.”
And rest in Peace Queen Elizabeth. Spent much of the morning watching the dignified and elegant ceremonies honoring her.
Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
William Martin (The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents)
I agree. And here’s the good news. The ordinary coming alive (what Joseph Campbell called “the rapture of being alive”) is not an assignment, or a test to pass.
Because sanctifying the ordinary is in our DNA. And the child within us still knows that to be true. (Alive and well inside of us, even after it gets buried in pace of life, hurry, distraction and public opinion.)
My son Zach was my teacher.
Zach is six, we are taking a break sitting on the bench in front of Bob’s Bakery with my son Zach (Bob’s is our island Saturday morning gathering spot). We’re having Cinnamon Twists. They are decadently yummy, and make me forget my need to be useful. The bench is made from a trunk of an old downed tree, it’s seat now worn from years of time and use. Zach and I watch the Vashon traffic–“traffic” in a poetic license sort of way–go by.
The breeze is gentle and the sun warm on our skin.
And Zach, his mouth full of half a Twist, says, “Dad, this is the life.”
The rapture of being alive.
Thank you Zach… “To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.” Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
Gratefully, the ordinary coming alive (the rapture of being alive) invites us to Slow Down. To harness the power of pause, to say thank you, to practice the sacrament of the present moment.
Where did the ordinary come alive for you this week?
Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
Lord, the air smells good…
Lord, the air smells good today,
straight from the mysteries
within the inner courts of God.
A grace like new clothes thrown
across the garden, free medicine for everybody.
The trees in their prayer, the birds in praise,
the first blue violets kneeling.
Whatever came from Being is caught up in being,
drunkenly forgetting the way back.