Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rejoicing in the Ordinary

C. S. Lewis wrote a poem called "The Day with a White Mark," about an ordinary day in which everything became unpredictably beautiful. This weekend I realized (don't know precisely when or why) how my resentment of the ordinary is like slapping God in the face.

I want life to be huge and spectacular and meaningful. I resent the nine-to-five grind, I resent the whole concept of college, I resent flourescent lighting, shopping malls, taxes, compulsory education, and the overwhelming necessity of constantly planning for, purchasing, preparing, and eating food. In fact, I resent so many things that I could just talk about how lousy life is and never run out of things to say.

That's pitiful. Why don't I cherish those tiny, tiny details that seem so meaningless? Waking up in the morning to Beethoven's Fifth. Making breakfast. Deciding what to wear. The smell of shampoo. Driving to work in my very own car . . . having my own office . . . the "I Proverbi Italiani" poster on my wall . . . brainstorming cover story titles with my coworkers . . . talking with friends . . . calling my mom . . . checking the mail . . . reading in bed. This is the life God gave me, and I'm kicking it right back at Him. And here's the thing: if even these tiny building blocks of my life--the smallest components of who I am--are so beautiful, what do I have to complain about?

Here's what Lewis wrote:
My garden's spoiled, my holidays are cancelled, the omens harden;
The plann'd and unplann'd miseries deepen; the knots draw tight.
Reason kept telling me all day my mood was out of season.
It was, too. In the dark ahead the breakers only are white.

Yet I--I could have kissed the very scullery taps. The colour of
My day was like a peacock's chest. In at each sense there stole
Ripplings and dewy sprinkles of delight that with them drew
Fine threads of memory through the vibrant thickness of the soul.

As though there were transparent earths and luminous trees should grow there,
And shining roots worked visibly far down below one's feet,
So everything, the tick of the clock, the cock crowing in the yard
Probing my soil, woke diverse buried hearts of mine to beat . . . .

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Reasons to Be Happy

Sometimes the world spins too fast to write coherently. That's how I've felt lately. So, in this last post before Easter, I am going to slow down and contemplate the small but beautiful things that make life worth living now:

It's Easter! I have a long weekend. Tomorrow I am driving home by way of Skyline Drive--an expensive, slow, circuitous route, silent and restful, beautiful and surprising, a ride that unwinds moment by moment and mile by mile and view by view. I'll listen to music, get my snack at a camp store, and maybe walk a bit on the Appalachian Trail.

When I get home, the windows of the house will be open and I will be able to hear their voices as I get out of my car. We will talk (a lot), drink tea, eat dinner, and sit around the table laughing and probably arguing, too, because that's what Italians do, only you call it a "discussion."

My housemate is coming on Saturday to spend Easter with us. Maybe we'll watch Pride and Prejudice (still haven't seen it!). On Sunday, we'll go to my grandmother's for a last Easter dinner in her house, because she just sold it--after 30 years--and is moving to her hometown of Pittsburgh.

Happy Easter, my friends!