15 February 2012

Ordinary, Common, or Familiar?

Monday I mentioned that I'm reading Walking on Water, by Madeleine L'Engle. She is challenging me to think about my faith, and the reality of things, in a new way; she's presenting me, again, with childlike faith. It's been great to read this reflection on art and creativity right after reading Wind in the Door, which has in it some of the same ideas - however, in this nonfiction book she makes clear that ideas she presented in her fictional work are to her "probable impossibles."

Like time travel for instance, she presents it as a skill mankind has lost.

This line of thinking about what's real pushed me to think on the concept of ordinary things. We all have an idea of what is holy, what is acceptable to God, and what is common, those things we use for our own good each day. And what is it that makes us sort out the holy from the common? What is it about the lofty ceilings of a church that are so much more acceptable to God than a loft in a barn?

Well, nothing.

If we truly believe the Psalms, 24:1 says, "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it," then there is indeed nothing he doesn't cherish. Prayer alter or street curb, pew or rocking chair, all are his.

And this is where we get caught up with our ability to love consistently. We take this idea of the common, the ordinary, into our homes; our meals are no longer communion with our children where we dine on the Lord's fare, they are times of consumption when we fill our bellies. Listening to a child tell a story is no longer a work of creativity, it's the noise at the back of our head as we do a chore or check our email.

What I long for is to see all things in their true form, especially my family. If I could get over the fact that nothing is common or ordinary, I might be able to care for my wife's needs before my own every day.

But it's so easy to confuse the familiar with the ordinary. I end up treating the games and stories of my children as trivial because I experience them often - and I do this with most things. However, frequency does not dictate worth. Those silly boys are (or should be) a constant reminder of grace, of joy and gladness. Familiar but very extraordinary; and because these small bundles are so full of life, I should be praising God every time I see them - no matter how often.

The best poem in the English language, Paradise Lost, has many theological truths within it; in the fourth part Milton says,

"...so little knows
Any, but God alone, to value right
The good before him, but perverts best things
To worst abuse, or to their meanest use."

May we put on God's perspective; value the smallest things today - their creator does.


ells said...

hi neighbor...great post...oh how I wish I would have seen this when I was a younger mom...but still learning...to value all through the eyes of God...thanks...and blessings~

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

He cares for the smallest sparrow. All things are precious to God. But you're right, we tend to get caught up in life and forget those little precious things.

Positively Alene said...

Love that - it's so easy to confuse the familiar with the ordinary! Oh so true. I need to wake up in the familiar and see the ordinary and even the extraordinary. Great words. Blessings from WWHW

Nacole said...

oh, this hits home. such a good reminder for us moms...everything is sacred.

blessings to you!

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