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?