Embracing the Sacred in the Ordinary

tea light

I wake early after a holiday weekend. It is dark and cold outside. I shiver, pulling my sky-blue, fluffy bathrobe around me. “I can do this” I think to myself.

Who am I kidding? I can’t do this. This day after day routine of early rising, walking to the subway, dodging leftover piles of snow, trying to make sure I’m alert and centered…all of it is too much.

I can’t do this alone. Not for a minute.

Waking, showering, brushing teeth, putting on make up, dressing, scanning an app to see if I can catch the bus or if I’ll end up walking, rummaging around a refrigerator so I won’t have to buy my lunch – so many mundane, routine things. They say that character is formed in how we respond to the routine. I believe it because that’s when my true self comes out. Muttering that I wish I was more organized when trying to find lunch, outright cursing the bus schedule, shaking my head in frustration when I am jostled in the early morning rush – all of these are things that I do regularly. Is there a sacred rhythm to this? If so, can I find it?

This early morning hour reveals who I am in ways that I don’t like, in ways that I often get to hide. But when I am stripped of the audience, there they are, my heart naked before God, if not before man.

I think about this today as I begin my routine. How do I incorporate worship into every act, every day, every moment? How can these acts echo my spiritual life?

I think for a moment about the book I am reading: Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren. The book responds to the question “How do we embrace the sacred in the ordinary and the ordinary in the sacred?” The author goes through a day in the life of a normal routine, helping us see the routine through the lens of liturgy.

In the first few pages, the author talks about not wanting to get out of bed and it feels particularly appropriate today:

“I don’t want to face the warring, big and small, that lies ahead of me today. I don’t want to don an identity yet. I want to stay in the womb of my covers a little longer.”

Later in the chapter,  she goes on to say:

As Christians,we wake each morning as those who are baptized. We are united with Christ and the approval of the Father is spoken over us. We are marked by our first waking moment by an identity that is given to us by grace: an identity that is deeper and more real than any other identity we will don that day…..Days can pass in a bluster of busyness, impatience, and distraction. I work to build my own blessedness, to strive for a self-made belovedness. But each morning, in those first tender moments –  in simply being God’s smelly, sleepy beloved – I again receive grace, life, and faith as a gift.”

I stop for a moment and I remember that I am beloved. No matter what happens today, it will never change that I begin this day as a child of God.

I move on to pray the Jesus Prayer. I mean it with all my heart. I know I am beloved, and I also know that I need mercy. I need strength. I need a motivator worth more than a pay check; an incentive that counts more than a retirement account.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner.

I repeat the words as I go on with my morning. I plug in the white lights that I’ve put onto a plant, my preservation of Christmas lights to move me forward in the new year. The plant illuminates the room, rather like the Jesus Prayer illuminates my soul.

The day has begun. I move forward as one beloved and armed to face the day.


*Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren, pp 52-53

7 thoughts on “Embracing the Sacred in the Ordinary

  1. “I repeat the words as I go on with my morning. I plug in the white lights that I’ve put onto a plant, my preservation of Christmas lights to move me forward in the new year. The plant illuminates the room, rather like the Jesus Prayer illuminates my soul.”

    Absolutely superb, Marilyn. The Jesus Prayer does indeed illuminate my soul. What a vivid example/simile. Talk about turning on a light bulb (or, string of Christmas lights) in my head.
    Thanks so much. @chaplaineliza

    Like

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