It is evening and the day is done. My first twelve hours of silent retreat. Somewhere in the retreat house a blower just cut off. Now the only sound is the quiet hiss of gas flowing to the fireplace before me. The flames are hypnotic. Next to me my tea steeps, a bug crawls on my Bible. It is a wonderful time to simply be aware.
Ordinariness. The word keeps floating in my mind. A friend of mine, a musician, likes to say that music gets into his head and does not leave; he calls it a music worm. This must be what he means.
Previously I wrote about the kingdom of heaven when battleships and bullet trains were on my mind. It sounds exciting doesn’t it?, and I like exciting. Skydiving; scuba diving; motorcycling too fast; aerobatics; flying through thunderstorms, snow, and ice…I’ve always liked excitement, the rush of adrenalin. Yet, even in those things I found rush giving way to routine and I moved on.
Perhaps battleships and bullet trains are our attempt to give some urgency to God’s kingdom-at-hand. Or, perhaps we are trying to jazz up God in a culture that is all about sizzle. Regardless, these aren’t the images Jesus uses; rather, He uses wheat growing in a field, a treasure buried long enough to have been forgotten, a pearl from an oyster that grew layer by layer, and ten women waiting so long for the bridegroom to show up that they fell asleep. Were Jesus to use a modern metaphor, He might have said, “The kingdom of God is like watching paint dry.” Maybe it is better, or at least more majestic, to think of it like a glacier: imperceptible movement, but it reshapes the terrain.
After writing about the Kingdom the other day, I was sitting with some friends when I had the distinct, and disorienting, experience of God letting me see across time and space. In the briefest of moments I saw wars, earthquakes, floods, kids going to school, adults at work, families together, acts of kindness, acts of meanness, sporting events…billions of people, past, present, future, living life.
I give my life to the King. The fullness of God indwells me, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. The past is gone, the future not yet arrived; there is only this present moment, and God is God of the present. In Christ I am one with our Father as Jesus is. Spirits intertwined in Love. This moment, so ordinary, is made divine by the present of God. My life becomes a microcosm of the Kingdom of God.
Two days ago, a friend of mine, upon hearing me ramble about my obsession with the ordinary, remarked that he believed I was using “ordinary” to describe the sacred. I think he is right. In the ordinary, the Kingdom of God is at hand. Where else would we find Him?
Good to be reading your thoughts on this, Mike. Thanks for sharing your insights.
It is refreshing to be reminded of the ordinary and how precious it is. However, I can relate to the excitement that God provides as well. Thanks for your thoughts.