EVERYBODY WANTS A REVOLUTION BUT NOBODY WANTS TO DO THE DISHES
Back in high school I had this great, old hippie literature teacher. With eyes half- mast, and in low tones, he was always dropping sagely sayings. Fortunately, his deep thought of the day was never full of eastern-spirituality abstractions, but instead grounded in the mundaneness of real life.
Maybe it’s due to my own temperament, maybe it was just simple wisdom, but I’ll always remember a point he made about observing everyday-ness of life when he assigned our writing exercises. His basic point was that life's mountain-top experiences are uncommon. Most of life is lived getting out of bed, eating a bowl of cereal and going to class, or punching a time clock, but there's somehow hidden beauty in the ordinary. Not exactly the stuff of grab-the-bull-by-the-horns-and-go-out-and- change-the-world-type pep talks. But even at 17, I knew he was on to something. A blog from Tish Harrison Warren reminds me of that high school teacher’s wisdom.
This will all be repeat info for listeners of the White Horse Inn, but Harrison Warren’s blog is so full of everyday spiritual wisdom, I couldn’t not share it again. She spent years as a disciple of Shane Claiborne styled radical Christianity, went on missions to impoverished areas, lived in underprivileged neighborhoods, gave away most her worldly possessions and walked barefoot in solidarity to the “least of these”. Then came marriage, domesticity, and home life with two little ones:
Now, I’m a thirty-something with two kids living a more or less ordinary life. And what I’m slowly realizing is that, for me, being in the house all day with a baby and a two-year-old is a lot more scary and a lot harder than being in a war-torn African village. What I need courage for is the ordinary, the daily every-dayness of life. Caring for a homeless kid is a lot more thrilling to me than listening well to the people in my home. Giving away clothes and seeking out edgy Christian communities requires less of me than being kind to my husband on an average Wednesday morning or calling my mother back when I don’t feel like it.
...But I’ve come to the point where I’m not sure anymore just what God counts as radical. And I suspect that for me, getting up and doing the dishes when I’m short on sleep and patience is far more costly and necessitates more of a revolution in my heart than some of the more outwardly risky ways I’ve lived in the past. And so this is what I need now: the courage to face an ordinary day — an afternoon with a colicky baby where I’m probably going to snap at my two-year old and get annoyed with my noisy neighbor — without despair, the bravery it takes to believe that a small life is still a meaningful life, and the grace to know that even when I’ve done nothing that is powerful or bold or even interesting that the Lord notices me and is fond of me and that that is enough.
For those feeling stuck in the mundane, and worn out by all the law-laden radical Christian discipleship books so popular in evangelical circles today, Harrison Warren’s blog is a good reminder to us all. Whether you’re faithfully clocking in day in and day out, or changing diapers or something in-between, there is simple, profound spiritual meaning in whatever your mundane looks like.