I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live in a monastery. I imagine I would be more saintly because there would be less people getting on my last nerve. As an introvert, this beautiful solitude is one of my fantasies. On a recent backpacking trip to Mt. Robson with my family, I slipped into one of my daydreams (I do this often) and imagined I was the warden living in the cabin across the river. The little abode looked so inviting and quiet. A little plume of smoke came out of the chimney and I imagined the warden sipping coffee by a crackling fire with her favourite books all around her. I figured she probably took breaks from reading to run around the lake, nap or take photos of the stunning vistas. She wouldn’t have to worry about schedules or the boring humdrum of ordinary. Her time was her own, I imagined. I wondered what books she was reading. I imagined how many books I could write in this quiet place of peace. I envisioned myself tapping out letters and sentences and pages of writing with no effort because serenity clears the mind from its typical chaotic state. By the time I finished my little daydream, I wanted to apply for the warden’s job. I was jealous of someone I didn’t even know. But as reality sunk in, I realized she probably had to clean the outhouses and maybe the job wouldn’t be a good fit for me after all.
Life is like that isn’t it? Always wanting something other than what we have. If we’re married, we dream about what it would be like to be single and beat to our own drum. If we’re single, we think all the stars would fall into alignment if only we had that special somebody. When our children are first born, we fantasize about them getting bigger and more independent so we can get some semblance of our life back. We are deceived that our future will somehow be better than our present. We look to our future like addicts waiting for their next fix. Such lies keep us perpetually dissatisfied, restless and unhappy. I can’t count the times in my life when my mind and emotions have gotten the better of me and I bow to the lie that my life is one big lament and that’s it. I grumble at God (which is usually not pretty), telling him I’m tired of trying to squeeze water out of a stone. Finding joy is just too much work. I feel disillusioned. Life has been like biting into a plain dry biscuit when I thought it was going to be more like biting into a savory, rich chocolate chip cake. But then after my little rant, I look up at the pictures of my family on my bookshelf and realize with sudden clarity that it has been rich all along. Even during the boring pages of my life, I was shaping a child, sacrificing for my family and creating beautiful pieces of art with my life story when I thought nothing significant was happening. Within the ordinary things are the miracles. People who come face to face with life threatening illnesses say that the things they miss most are the ordinary things. God sees ordinary as sacred. He is pleased when I don’t need to have the bells and whistles going off in order to feel like I’m doing something magnificent. I really feel it’s important to stop looking to the future as a means of soothing our now. I think changing the world is huge, missionary trips are extraordinary, travelling to faraway places is exciting, but I think heaven gives a standing ovation to those who live ordinary well. God is pleased with the father who works his whole life to provide for his family, with the mother who is both a mother and a father to her child, with the nurse working in a long term care facility who gives dignity to the elderly and with the stay at home mom or dad who changes more diapers than he or she can count. Every day we live in the tension of the beautiful and gritty parts of our lives and it will be like that until we reach heaven. Grass is greener thinking only leads to a lot of pain and tumult and that type of distorted thinking costs relationships dearly. I know God’s love will move me into new, wondrous seasons, but for now I choose to love the season I’m in because I know I will look back on this time in my life and realize how much I miss it.