Thursday, November 5, 2015
The splendor of ordinary days
The phrase went through my mind last week as I drove to my storage unit. I usually go through the town of Lisbon where I live to get to it, hitting a few lights and dealing with the sometimes heavy traffic that even a small town can have to reach the storage unit that is a few miles outside of town on busy Route 45.
This time, I decided to go the back way. I took St Jacobs Logtown Road, which is a back road with many curves that crosses the bike/walking trail several times that I use. I'm not sure what the speed limit is, but I drove at an unusual leisurely speed. I took time to notice the flowers and trees beside the road, the creek that runs beside the road for a while, the couple of farms I passed, a man under his vehicle working on it as his wife stood and observed, the corn fields that have been harvested.
I can't remember meeting any other vehicles, and there were none in front of or behind me. It was my day off, and I was in no hurry to get where I was going. I took the time to pay attention to what I was driving past...the ordinary. Barns, flowers, a creek, people working outside. I beeped and waved at a woman with her dog, and a man getting on his bicycle waved at me as I drove by, so I waved back.
All so ordinary; things we see every day and take no notice of because we are too busy speeding by to get onto our next duty, project, or whatever else we deem important.
As I drove by these ordinary things, that phrase kept running through my head: the splendor of ordinary days. Splendor and ordinary. They are totally opposites, so the idea of there being splendor in the ordinary is intriguing.
A week ago Sunday, I sat at a table with my parents, my 3 nieces, a friend of my eldest niece, and my sister and her husband. The occasion was my oldest niece's 20th birthday. We had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, noodles, peas, corn, home made rolls, Dairy Queen Cake, and dirt dessert. After the dishes were taken away, there was the opening of gifts. We have done it countless times over the years: A meal with family, cake, and gifts. All ordinary...... well except for the chicken. My mom's fried chicken is extraordinary and smacks of splendor......
Yet someday, there will be empty seats at that table. And those who are left will look back and realize those were not ordinary times at all, but splendor in the ordinary.
We take so much for granted. Time goes by so fast, things change and friends and relatives move on or pass on.
Already, I look back and remember the days when my nieces and nephews were tiny babies that I held, fed a bottle to, put on my shoulder and burped. Now those same kids are ages 9 to 20. There is no holding or feeding, but instead playing video games with them, listening to the stories they tell, getting a hug as they arrive or leave.... all so ordinary... so ordinary it is easy to lose the splendor of it all.
It is there to see if we slow down and pay attention, if we lay our cell phones down and take it all in:
The beautiful colors of leaves in the Fall
The blossoming flowers, trees, and other new life in the Spring
A baby's first word
That first kiss
A wedding day
A job completed
Holding God's Word in your hands
A hug from a friend or loved one
Passing your driver's test
Receiving your diploma
Coffee or lunch with a friend
The list could go on for a long time. The oh so ordinary things we are used to and take for granted. The things that are speeding past us as we live our busy lives. The things that some day we will look back and realize that what we thought was so ordinary, was not ordinary at all, but were times and days filled with splendor that we just thought were ordinary.