Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Embracing the Mundane as Sacred

I hear the sounds of yelling, uproarious laughter and thudding upstairs as the boys are wrestling...again. There will very likely be an injury; such an event is nearly a daily occurrence. Such is the life with boys. And such joy and abandon these kids still have that we adults have lost. I’m trying to learn to see the sacred in the mundane and be mindful in the midst of parenting chaos. Being “present” sounds so monastic, whether Buddhist or Christian or Hindu, but I aspire to progressing in that mental discipline. A very counterculture concept; there don’t seem to be many constructs in our western society that support and encourage this discipline.

So often I hear arguing and squabbling amongst my children, and what parent is motivated day after day to be “present” for that…again? I’d just as soon escape in some fashion. Live through enough of those repeated experiences and the escapism fantasy begins to kick in. I want to shut my bedroom door and lock it. I get on the computer and surf the web. I delve into a book or magazines. Or just lie down and close my eyes. Typical introvert. Worse still, I dive into the argument and try to “fix” it; that strategy doesn’t always end well as I’ve gone into battle already charged, hardly neutral.

Pausing to breathe through each event helps me stop short of reacting.

Rainy days – rain has become sacred in Atlanta. I can see rain as a beautiful gift from God now. The larger challenge is to be thankful in (notice I said “in”, not “for”) muggy, humid heat that I’m so totally over.

It’s tempting to just get “stuff done” when the children are occupied, but I wanted to capture the little person lost in the world of the game. More often it’s the world of Calvin and Hobbs.

Speaking of which, in this solitary game of Bananagrams my little guy was playing to keep himself occupied while everyone else in the house was busy with “older people work”, he spelled out ridiculously long words he’d read in his Calvin and Hobbs collection. Doesn’t even know what half of them mean.
The “transmogrifier” – a Calvin classic creation. Good for hiding, morphing, planning, eating breakfast, or becoming “a 500-story Gastropod – a slug the size of the Chrysler Building”.

Simple natural foods. A holy experience. I forgot the bowl of chocolate.

And on the subject of food, our middle guy is our chef, a true foodie. Baking with his apprentice.

Laundry and dishes? Harder to reconcile this work as sacred…but can I be mindful while doing it? I am reminded of how thankful I am to at least have my own washer, dryer and dishwasher. Recalling trips to the Laundromat in my singlehood brings gratefulness to my heart. Touching the children’s towels and clothes helps prompts me to smile at simple things like my youngest boy’s squishy little body, how my oldest is growing so tall. The slow, multi-step and sometimes plodding nature of this mundane domestic duty, when done mindfully, helps me slow down.

My teenager. ‘Nuff said. Gotta love him.


Gardening – whether pruning, planting or watering – can never be done in a rush. It’s just not possible, neither is it healthy. It does however connect me with the earth. A great reminder of God’s creation.

Photographing these events, cataloguing their history. Do I want to be so “productive” with my tasks and achievements that I miss these sacred moments?

Many have gone before me who have learned to slow down, be intentional and celebrate the simple. Thankful to God for the gift of serenity.