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 . . . .


john said...

I was just talking to a friend of mine about this very thing--we must be very careful not to view highschool, or college, or law school, or grad school, or the job we have or whatever as the one thing we have to get past and then we can really start living.

That kind of life never comes--it's always just out of reach.

And so rejoicing and happiness aren't things that happen to us; they are attitudes we must practice. And that's only possible through the grace of God.

Excellent post.

Islandgirl said...

Amen, girl!