The Saint John’s Wort is blooming again, a feast for bees and for the eyes of passersby. In living its ordinary life, faithfully being itself, it becomes a gift to many.
We need each other. Often enough, the way someone else says or writes something awakens me to a new understanding of something going on in me that I wasn’t aware of or couldn’t articulate until they said it. This week was someone’s simple statement of a misbelief in their earlier life—“Ordinary: BAD!”
I get it. Maybe that’s part of why I became a doctor and worked in Afghanistan until I couldn’t anymore. I thought I had to be extraordinary to be acceptable.
Ordinary can feel to me like failure.
Let me pause here to say this: For the most part, I like doing things well. I want to be the best me I can be, empowered by Christ, for him and for others. I want to follow the command in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. . .” I think that’s healthy.
In my better moments, I also recognize that trying to be extraordinary can actually keep me from working “with all my heart, as working for the Lord”—because I’m pretty sure that “with all my heart” means fully present, engaged, loving, which I’m not when I’m striving to be extraordinary. (In the original Greek, the phrase translated “with all your heart” is “from the soul.”)
“Ordinary: BAD!” As I read that simple misbelief that has been unknowingly twined through my understanding of life and work and also faith, I see a baby in a manger.
Could God have chosen a more ordinary way to come among us, stepping right into our ordinary flesh, our ordinary time, our ordinary cycles of reproduction and growth, limits and dependency and relationships?
In doing so, did he not make the ordinary holy, declaring it a place where God shows up?
“Ordinary: GOOD!” Very good, even.
Since God entered the ordinary, is anything ordinary anymore?
I need this reminder.
I need it in the moments when I’m cleaning the bathroom and buying groceries.
And in the moments I’m sad or lonely or disappointed, or slowing to savour the taste of an orange.
I need it when I’m editing a paragraph and I need it as we begin summer and I want to sit outside and relax with a novel.
God is with us—in us!—right in the middle of the not-so-ordinary ordinary.
“It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.(2 Cor 4:6-7 The Message)
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.”
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”(Rom 12:1 The Message)