It is Thursday of the first week of winter break. The days have been slow and quiet, almost otherworldly for the college Resident Director. We wake at the same time, thanks to our toddler, and beyond the 7 am start, our day has nothing on the agenda. I’ve been meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking – a few of my least favorite tasks. The cooking is fun, but the preparation takes discipline for me. We eat breakfast and dinner at the kitchen table. We get oil changes and gas in the tank. We put our son to bed, and we head to the couch.
Rhythm. It pulses through our days and kindly guides us into each new one. Traditionally, I get anxious about the lack of plans and events to fill up the days. This week feels perfectly small and simple. In the midst of slow days, I’ve been reading Liturgy of the Ordinary, a beautiful book by Tish Harrison Warren. She takes an average day and focuses, chapter by chapter, on the regular practices of human beings. In the mundane and ordinary, she points to the sacred. She calls our attention to the opportunity in each little habit – the opportunity to connect with Christ and be changed by him.
I’m crazy about words that fill us up in ways nothing else seems to imitate. Warren’s book is pouring in; it’s bringing refreshment. And it couldn’t be more perfectly timed (thanks to good friends who give thoughtful gifts). Life has slowed down significantly. When Monday held all the temptation to give my regular, batty response to a shift in routine, I found these words.
“I like big ideas. I can get drunk on talk of justification, ecclesiology, pneumatology, Christology, and eschatology. But these big ideas are born out — lived, believed, and enfleshed — in the small moments of our day, in the places, seasons, homes, and communities that compose our lives. Annie Dillard famously writes, ‘How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.’ I came across Dillard’s words a couple years before I went to seminary, and throughout those years of heady theological study I kept them in my back pocket. They remind me that today is the proving ground of what I believe and of whom I worship.
And on this particular day, Jesus knows me and declares me his own. On this day he is redeeming the world, advancing his kingdom, calling us to repent and grow, teaching his church to worship, drawing near to us, and making a people all his own.”– Liturgy of the Ordinary, p. 23
The balm of much needed words in a heavy season. Before finding the slower pace of these last few days, I’d been running steadily towards the end of another semester. And by running, I do mean racing to the finish line. In my job, relationships, and mental state, I was struggling. Thankfully, we all made it to the last week of final exams without a breakdown. The beginning of break came, and I happily found refuge in God’s presence and gift of healing words.
Like Warren, I want the “big ideas” to run my daily life. I want to work on projects that have big impact and engage in meaningful conversation all the time. I dislike, maybe even hate, work that feels trite. Cleaning, paperwork, changing diapers – it is embarrassingly uncomfortable for me. This attitude is immature and selfish. As my good friend John reminds me often, today matters. Books and wise voices remind us to slow down, stay present, and be thankful. Thank you, Voices.
Thank you, Father, for making today.
I will rejoice and be glad in all of it.
Teach me to let the mundane shape me and draw me to you.
Show me how to be still,
Help me to be content.
Direct my eyes to see how you’re using today to build up your people.
I want to live today with trust,
And I want to see your presence in every practice.
In a season of great anticipation and hope,
I say thank you for bringing light into the darkness.
Light to my heavy mind and heart,
Light to the burdened and hurting,
Light to a waiting world.
You are the long-expected answer to empty days –
Let us see how you’ve redeemed your people
And redeemed our days.
Let our longing hearts find all joy in you,
Today and every day.