The days fade sepia and two-dimensional as the relentless rhythm of keeping five people alive drains me dry. I find myself staring unseeing, trudging numb, shoulders braced hard against lists and calendar squares. my only goal to collapse on my pillow at the end.
I lose the big picture in the running kids to lessons, the selecting produce, the pouring milk into cereal, the loading dishwashers, the wiping grimy tables and chairs. I am listless and dissatisfied. Empty. Just another cog in a wheel, grinding down to a stub.
How can this over-and-over grunt work fulfill my soul’s longing to be part of something significant, to see and make and soak in beauty, to grow and learn and soar?
Then, a flicker of color.
These words by Thomas H. Groome, describing “sacramental consciousness.” He writes that to see “the more in the midst” of the every day common moments, we must cultivate our imaginations.
“This is precisely how its greatest exponents – poets and artists – use it; they imagine and unveil for the rest of us a little more of the real. ….In her epic poem Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barrett Browning said:
Earth is crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes –
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.” [quoted from “What Makes Us Catholic”]
Imagination. I remember. I used to create fantastic worlds in my mind and live my entire day there. But years ago I abandoned imagination to the dust while I learned hospital terms, nursed babies, gave medications, scrubbed pee off bathroom floors, learned equipment and how to give shots, changed diapers, and dispensed goldfish crackers to whiny children again.
I dig it out and wipe it off. If I could see the fire of God in the dishes piled in (and next to) my sink and heaven crammed into bulging laundry baskets and toy bins, how these days might brighten again. I believe that it’s there.
Imagination needs tending. It needs breathing room, time, and purpose. I slow down a little. I stand up, back away from the grinding to-do list, look around, listen. And there God is. Even in the most mundane of days, I find tiny gifts from God, tucked away in corners and hollering through the halls. Color and flavor and music and joy!
Will you join me looking for the fire of God in our everyday?
291. School’s out! Racing to catch school buses replaced by lazy afternoons at the pool.
292. Sandbox sand, even in the house
293. Elaborate wars between stuffed-animal-Barbie-car-superhero-train armies
294. Learning to make time for small-sized helpers to help in the kitchen (because having help doesn’t speed things up)
295. Unexpected news of a much-longed-for new life coming to a sister’s family
296. Difficult grace for a family in the midst of a scary diagnosis
297. Smiles on children’s faces when they spot puppets peaking over a set
298. The enthusiasm of our young puppeteers even as they wipe sweat off their foreheads (try holding a puppet above your head for five minutes while talking fast with your hand… it’s hard work)
299. Watching our children discover old photos of themselves and of us “when you were young”
300. Cherry tomatoes
301. First corn on the cob of the season
302. My peas are growing!
303. Discovering the ocean with my children
304. The underwater tickle-monster
305. Final report cards and the praise of teachers for character traits in our children
306. Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean
307. Palm trees
308. Salt-water lips
309. That special kind of tired from spending all day in the ocean breeze
310. Visits with old friends
311. Rediscovering the sarcastic wisdom of Mark Twain
312. Wrestling with deep questions til 1am with kindred spirits
313. The Smoky Mountains
315. Freshly-bathed dog
316. “I’ll stay with you mommy, since you’re leaving soon.” (I’m traveling to Bolivia with World Vision in three weeks.)