Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things… as to do ordinary things with the perception of the enormous value.
(Teilhard de Chardin)
For nearly 17 years I have had the privilege of living and working in a number of countries. The exposure to various people groups, cultures and nationalities and how they experience and express Christianity has been invaluable – eye opening in fact. We often have to leave our home culture and experience another, in order more clearly see the fabric of our own.
I have become keenly aware that we Americans have a love for the sensational. Just look at a news program, a tabloid, a movie advertisement, etc. Excitement, high drama and sensationalism are the hooks that attract. Excitement sells! We are motivated to look for the next spectacular happening thing. Perhaps, just perhaps, with the focus on power house conferences, extraordinary testimonies, and dynamic crowd drawing speakers, some of that has crept into our Christianity. Perhaps.
But that is not actually real life. Most of life is actually lived in the ordinary. There are indeed times punctuated with the extraordinary, but those are rare and fleeting. I believe it is in the ordinary experiences of life that we best express or “work out our salvation” (Philip. 2:12).
It is in the ordinariness of work relationships, meals around the table, challenges in marriages and stormy yet meaningful friendships that real life is lived. It is the everyday encounters; both tough and wonderful, that fills the moments of our lives. And from an eternal perspective each one has significance. If we begin to have eyes that see and ears that hear we can walk our journeys with an awareness that we do actually walk with God. As we make the journey from our minds to our hearts, we can have a growing, moment by moment awareness, that we are couriers and carriers of Holy Truth. Each ordinary encounter has the potential to be expressive, genuine and honest– even when no words are said.
As our eyes continue to be opened to the reality that we are indeed the very beloved of God, ones worth dying for, we will recognize that each so called ordinary encounter is a holy event. We will see those around us as ones created in the image of God – and so they are. Why crave the sensational when we can experience the Eternal?
What is required is to become the Beloved in the common places of my daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists between what I know myself to be and the countless specific realities of everyday life. Becoming the Beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about, and doing from hour to hour.
Henri Nouwen – Life of the Beloved