The religion of Christianity is full of extraordinary beliefs: that an invisible God created the entire universe; that this God became a man who lived and died on earth; that this dead man was resurrected to live forever; that we too, through belief in Him, gain eternal life, and can look forward to a heaven with no suffering, only joy and love; and so on.
Do you want an extraordinary life? Just become a Christian! Believe the Apostles’ Creed and follow Jesus Christ and your life will have all the extraordinariness you can handle.
Do you still want more? There isn’t any. This is it.
So extraordinary is Christianity that, to keep us tethered to the ground so that we don’t float away into the ether, our lives must be lived out in the most ordinary of circumstances: housework, brushing teeth, defecating, taking out the garbage, dealing with other sinners. All of this—not just the extraordinary beliefs—is what we must embrace if we are to be good Christians. There’s already more than enough extraordinariness to go around. Where we fall short, usually, in in disparaging the ordinary. We say, “I’ll take the wonderful God and all His goodies, but don’t ask me to mow the lawn, waste time having cancer treatments, or love my neighbor.”
We especially don’t like the love part. Lust—yes. Romance—bring it on! But the love that loves everyone in our lives, day in, day out, in all circumstances—this is not our cup of tea.
But here’s the truth: the flower of love grows best in ordinary soil. In the final analysis, ordinariness is what love is all about. The very plainness of life compels us to love, for only love can bathe all the mundane and unwanted parts of existence in such a light that they become, not just acceptable, but attractive. The more ordinary something is, the more it calls out for love. The more ordinary someone is—or appears—the more he or she invites our love. Those who are lacking in love are shown up by their scorn of the commonplace. Everyday glory is lost on them in their lust for exciting experiences, prescribed beauty, special moments. But for those who do truly love, it is natural to cherish the ordinary. Passion for the ordinary is the prerequisite for love.
In conclusion, to sum up this series on The Ordinary Life, here’s a poem by Pat Schneider entitled “The Patience of Ordinary Things”:
It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?
(From Another River: New and Selected Poems by Pat Schneider)
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