This question has been rumbling around in my mind since I read it. I find myself wondering why we have trouble with the “mundane and routine,” and feel as though our days are not only not noteworthy, but maybe not even worthy.
We join a mission program, we make a vow, we join a parish committee or take up volunteer work, and sooner or later it becomes less spectacular, passionate, or fulfilling. Does this mean we are in the wrong place? Or that it is not our calling? We live in a culture of instant gratification—have we forgotten the subtle beauty of the ordinary, the tenderness of the simple, the holiness of day-to-day life?
What would Jesus say about the mundane and ordinary? Jesus lived most of his short time on earth in a most mundane way. Until the age of 30 he did nothing noteworthy—no miraculous healings, no walking on water. For a Jewish man of his time, he lived almost his entire life being quite ordinary—working as the town carpenter, living with his mother, spending time in prayer, discovering his true identity and pondering the gravity of his mission. Yet, the daily smoothing of wood, the nightly hours of silent communion with God were somehow shaping the Servant of God.
Some years ago I lived with a friend in our community who was a physical education teacher. One rainy, sleeting Holy Thursday morning with no school, she went out for a long run. When I asked, “How can you run in this nasty, punishing weather?” She replied, “This is prayer for me!” Running can be just running, but for her it had become prayer. Doing dishes can be a chore—or a contemplative action. Weeding a garden, correcting papers, or vacuuming can be mundane tasks, inglorious chores, even burdens—or they can be a way to see the Face of Christ—or be the Hands of Christ.
Yes, God often speaks to us, and speaks through us in the sweet simplicity of our egoless, ordinary, routine tasks, in our daily faithfulness ... in just breathing.