Fires are still out of control in New South Wales and Queensland, our one and only Australian cardinal is back in court today to hear whether or not he has the right to appeal his sentence for sexual child abuse and our voted-in parliamentarians don’t seem to understand anything much. But for most of us it’s just an ordinary day
From the viewpoint of my own days, other people’s ordinary can seem to be a lot more interesting. My daughter calls on the way home from work, stuck in traffic after a day spent in back-to-back meetings dealing with matters that are crucial to the large company that employs her. “How’s your day been Mum?” Well, not much to report there – the first agapanthus of the season has reared its head and, well, the rest of the day was just ordinary.
Thomas Merton, a Cistercian monk who died in 1968, once said, “We spend most of our lives under water. Every so often our head clears the surface and we look around and get our bearings. Then blik, we go back under again. In the moments when we get our bearings, we realize, Oh my God! Look how endlessly trustworthy life is! Look at the God-given, godly nature of simple things!”
My faith tells me that God hides in the ordinary but there never seems to be anything spiritual about a host of myriad details culminating in something as petty as ‘What will I cook for dinner?’ Maybe that’s because cradle Catholics like me were convinced that we didn’t deserve God’s friend-like attention. God was to be found in a church building, not a kitchen, a workspace or a car.
It was only when I read books and articles that said God meets you where you are, and God comes to you disguised as your life, that I could let go of the perception that I didn’t have to go looking for God, or learn a special language, find a church open to kneel in or study theology. God met me where I was.
When we feel a connectedness with people or things, God is there. When something lifts inside us, and suddenly we feel lighter, God is there. When the words of a song, a child’s response, a sentence in a book or a phrase from Scripture sings along in our mind and heart, God is there. God is in the ordinary, in the actual, in the daily, in the now, in what we might consider the accidental, even sinful.
Sometimes the ordinary of a day is shattered by unexpected change or loss. A house is destroyed in a bushfire, there is an unexpected death, an employment is terminated, a friendship is lost, a promise is broken, a diagnosis saps hope. Pain envelops us as we struggle to believe in the mysterious ‘nowness’ of God.
God borrows our hearts when we reach in compassion to those who have lost homes and belongings in the fires. God carries the anguish we feel when we mourn an untimely death, the just anger that grabs us when whole countries are overridden by men with guns and rockets, the shame we feel when countries like our own and the USA close their borders to people escaping religious or cultural persecution.
But when you let God share your ordinary, be prepared. God will push your edges.