Having returned last night from a five-day trip, having listened to the phone messages and helped my husband find the thing he urgently needed, having found something clean to wear this morning and unpacked the dirty clothes so I could start the washing machine, having cleaned up the cat’s mess and picked up the dog from the kennel, having stopped at the grocery store for bread, having decided the groceries can sit on the counter and the stack of mail can wait, having then toasted a bagel and brewed a cup of coffee (no, it’s not Intelligentsia, but neither am I downtown Chicago any longer), and having carried the coffee to my office and shut the door behind me, I sit.
I ask my journal, OK, how do I live ordinary life again?
And ever so patiently, my journal reminded me of what I am learning to live:
There is a very real option of living daily life in God’s presence. I see this and choose it. I am “a happy passenger in the chariot of God,”[ii] God runs the universe. I just ride along—as assistant and apprentice. “What’s next, God?”
I realize that my ideas of how today should turn out—and how the future should arrange itself—are ill informed, given my limited perspective. But God made this day and all it holds. It is a gift to me. I can’t control it, but I can unpack it with hope and confidence in the goodness of the Giver. “Harm will not come to [me], but a good [I] cannot foreknow.”[iii]
True, this world is broken; evil is real and horrible; pain and difficulty are normal, so I can’t expect to be spared suffering. And yet it will be temporary. All will be straightened out in the end. “All is well”—now, at the heart of reality—and “all manner of things will be well”[iv] in God’s time. Amen. Not only that, but Jesus will never leave me, and even darkness is not devoid of beauty. God, remind me to look for it!
Today is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it—and do my work as well as I can for His glory. But even failure is my friend, bringing the gift of humility by which my soul’s capacity to receive grace is enlarged.
The Good Teacher only gives assignments and tests for the good of us students, to lead us to the next level—only tests for which we are ready.
And so I face the day. I will “take the adventure that is sent to me.”[v] I receive this moment as a gift that arrives complete with all the ingredients I need to make of it “something beautiful for God.”[vi] And now to resume daily life~
[i] The title is part of a quotation from Elizabeth Leseaur in My Spirit Rejoices: The Diary of a Christian Soul in an Age of Unbelief, writes, after returning home from traveling, “Now to resume daily life. I want to be usefully but obscurely employed. I want to live from one day to another doing the task of the moment—which is the best way, I believe, to perform each task well.”
[ii] Desciption of Hannah Whitall Smith in the publisher’s foreword to The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. 1952 (1870). Baker Books.
[iii] Mr. Raven says this (the pronouns are “you” in the original) to Mr. Vane in Lilith, by George MacDonald.
[iv] Jesus’ promise to Julian of Norwich, as recorded in Revelations of Divine Love.
[v] Prince Rilian says, in The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis, “Let us descend into the city and take the adventure that is sent us.”
[vi] Mother Teresa
[i] Mother Teresa