I don’t think of myself as a Monday through Friday kind of person, but I must be. When a Monday holiday happens like it did this week with Labor Day, it really throws me for a loop the rest of the week. I am disoriented about what day it actually is. To make this week even more off kilter, I was sick on Wednesday and out of the office on Thursday at a conference. So I am just trying to think about what happened in the past Monday through Friday cycle. Amazingly enough, there were sweet glimpses of the kingdom that came in the most disconnected of places!
Through email, I have been in contact with my first grade teacher, then known as Sr. Mary Amy, and now reintroduced to me as Sr. Joyce Rupp, a prolific and profound author who has blessed many with her poems, books, retreats and spiritual intercessions. I can only offer gratitude to God for this amazing gift. I ordered two of her books, one of which is a daily devotional about the names of God called “Fragments of Your Ancient Name.” The reading for September 4 (yesterday) sums up the glimpses of the kingdom I have had this week:
Irresistible Beauty (Wisdom 7:29)
You have overpowered my heart
In moments of unsuspecting prayer
By slipping into my fat distractions
And quietly closing my mind-door.
You have abruptly stunned me
In those moments with creation
When a look, a sound, a touch
Of the ordinariness before me
Breathed its adoration of you.
How blessed I am, how blessed.
Today: I find you in the ordinary beauty I behold.
At a women’s conference with my co-workers just yesterday, I found my nugget of the kingdom in a video about a handful of rice. Have you seen this? Have you heard of this? Amazing! You should watch it here:
The poorest of the poor in Mizoram, India, giving from what little they have back to the kingdom. They don’t come to church as consumers seeking to be entertained, to be taught, to receive services like weddings or funerals. They come out of gratitude and in thanksgiving to the one who meets all their needs: Give us today the bread that doesn’t run out.
At a retirement ceremony for a man I have come to know at church and call a friend, I experienced the love that others have for him. How I know Jeff is how others know him as well: a man with a deep commitment to those who have served, a heart of compassion for those he works with and those he works for, a wicked sense of humor, a way that invites everyone in and keeps no one out. A man who follows the greatest commandment to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and the one just like it, to love his neighbor as himself.
I have watched parents this week find their prodigal son and receive him into their arms as he left a jail cell, and then proceed to drive him miles from home to take up residence in a place where he can get the help he needs.
I have sat with another mother whose son has just lost a friend in a very avoidable way. And I pray for that young man’s family in their loss, and for all of his friends who will learn a hard lesson about life: our choices do matter. There are consequences and they are hard. But we have spaces to grieve together and God joins us there.
I have welcomed my brother home from his adventure of a lifetime in the desert of Nevada and know that he has participated in something that his heart and soul thirsted for that could only be found in that dry land.
I have seen another sister off with her beloved and their antique tractors to drive across a bridge in a state 1500 miles from where they live to pay homage to a more innocent time in our country, when we didn’t take simple pleasures for granted but celebrated them.
I have been loved by a husband who works hard all day and then comes home to listen to all this pour out of my head and heart. And even when it doesn’t make sense to anyone but me, still listens and shares the words I need to hear: “I love you, Julie. You’re not crazy. You have a big heart.”
“The ordinariness before me.” Indeed.
Thy kingdom come. Monday through Friday. Sunday and Saturday, too. Every day. In everything. Always and forever. Amen.