It’s Sunday which means I’m going to run into my friend Kris at Safeway. She’ll have her list, I’ll have mine, and with a hint of sarcasm we’ll greet each other with, “Here we are again.” When we see each other at Starbucks we’re always in a better mood knowing that soon caffeine will cure all that ails us. Run into each other on the produce aisle and we’re both a little cranky. Our joke is that we wouldn’t ever see each other, if our pantries didn’t need stocking. This isn’t actually true but since both of us dislike this weekly event, it’s our way of introducing some comic relief into an otherwise mundane ritual.
It’s been said that the devil is in the details and I find this to be true. If the details are things like laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and preparing meals then Satan is always biting at my heel. I do a lot of laundry, shop for groceries several times a week, the house never stays clean, and teenage boys aren’t known for fixing their own meals. Sandwiched in between all those activities are the other things that need doing. Last week I spent hours gathering all the final bits of paper needed for completing the taxes. When my editor asked me what I thought might be contributing to my latest bout of writer’s block I laughed and said, “A better question is – what isn’t?”
It isn’t the proverbial, “To Do” list. It’s my attitude about the list because it’s so boring. Even when you put the list on a cute piece of polka-dotted paper it still lacks inspiration. The daily affairs of running a household or even running a business can be very mundane. Even in a church where you’d think your daily focus would be on all things heavenly work can be very monotonous. That’s the nature of daily life it feels earthly rather than spiritual.
As Easter approaches I’ve been thinking about how a person nurtures a sense of wonder in spite of the daily demands. How is that we can feel energized by even those things that seem trivial? Wonder is supposed to be natural and spontaneous to all of us. When we are children we’re in a constant state of amazement. Everything is new and we stagger through it in awe. I’m convinced children get lost in the supermarket not because they wander of unintentionally. Instead, they “wonder” off exploring. Fourteen different kinds of jelly beans, ten varieties of chocolate eggs, and several types of marshmallow Peeps is an Easter amusement park. Peeps alone merit intense scrutiny. Who thought of those?
At middle-age, however, navigating through the maze without a touch of cynicism is a challenge. I know the Easter display will give way to the summer display and long before the leaves change we’ll have pumpkins, candy corn, and turkeys. The predictability of the daily, monthly, yearly activities of life makes them feel humdrum.
Without wonder, however, we look at our lists with anxiety and guilt. We feel anxious that everything won’t get done and then we feel guilty when it hasn’t. This leaves little room for recognizing the “wonder-full” all around us and that we might actually being doing something that makes a difference.
For example, if I didn’t go the grocery story several times a week I might not ever find a single penny. Pennies have become so commonplace for me I forget I give these pennies away. Last year the eleven thousand plus homeless pennies I rescued went to Light Gives Heat and now someone in Uganda has a better home because of them. Writing about my penny finds meant that last week my friend Nancy found one that encouraged her before a doctor’s appointment she was anxious about. That same day, after getting fueled up on pulled pork, Luke went out and won a set off his tennis nemesis. He came home beaming and announced, “Progress!” Rounding the corner to his room he looked back at me and said, “It was the awesome dinner Mom thanks!” Smart boy!
Later in the week sorting through the laundry Chase showed me everything he’d outgrown that I could give away including one of his favorite barely worn shirts. Pack rat that he is I questioned him. His reply, “Someone probably needs it more Mom.” My jaw dropped and I thought, “That’s progress!”
These vignettes inspire me. What I know, and all too often forget, is that wonder and amazement can be found even in the seemingly mundane. We have to be looking for it though, like a child. If my attitude is that I “have” to go to the grocery store I’m not likely to recognize anything that surprises me. If I go with an expectant attitude, however, I’m certain to find something to inspire me. A person never looks to the west in the evening expecting the sun won’t set. He looks west knowing it will and God never lets him down.
I expect today I’ll see my friend Kris. I will probably find a penny or two, and if look for the beauty in the details, I’ll be stomping on the serpent that likes to bite at my heel. Nothing defeats the darkness that can bog us down like looking for the light!