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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Filtering by Tag: sacramental living

Toast Crumbs: Living and loving today

jenmichel@me.com

I haven’t given up blogging. At least not entirely. But life is headstrong and has a will of its own. The past week, it’s been nearly impossible to make time to even return email, much less do significant writing. I did manage to write a Her.meneutics piece, but this was accomplished only in fits and spurts. It was finally finished as I sat in the basement, ticking the inventory sheet the day our storage shipment arrived from Chicago and was unloaded into our basement. The truth about my writing is, I don’t like to think of myself as a blogger. That would seem to insist that I were more purposed about writing here. And I think I used to be, only now that I’m writing elsewhere, in more public spaces, I feel this instinctual urge to retreat, to pull together the curtains of my life and insist upon some privacy.

I don’t think it’s fear, really, that motivates this. Maybe I just have the sense to say: one has to do the work of living, too.

This last week, my body has been far more active than my fingers, my mouth, as I’ve hauled things in and up and down and away. On Sunday, the day after all of our things had been moved into the new house, Ryan made the ubiquitous pilgrimage to Ikea, returning with six heavy Expedit bookcases ready to be assembled. We carried the large and heavy boxes up and down stairs, and the next morning, I awoke with sore muscles in my arms and legs.

This physical exertion is good. I think it reminds me that I, too, am a body. Moving is like a force of gravity, reconnecting me to the stuff of earth. Which isn’t altogether a bad thing - or a rejection of the better life that is to come.

“Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.”

I read Psalm 37 this morning, and I heard it again. It’s like a recapitulating melody in my life: Put your feet down. Feel the earth under you. Live and breathe and love God in the ordinariness of today.

And on the theme of the “ordinary,” yesterday as I puttered about in the kitchen (enjoying, might I add, the expansive counter space of our new kitchen!), I listened to Cutting for Stone and found myself crying when the narrator discovers his father is dying of a rare blood disease. His father had been receiving treatment for the disease but hadn’t shared the diagnosis with his wife or his sons.

“Why won’t you let Ma know? Why didn’t you let me know?” one son asks when he finds out.

“You didn’t know about my diagnosis these last two years, did you? If you had known, it would’ve changed your relationship with me. Don’t you think? You know what’s given me the greatest pleasure in my life? It’s been our bungalow, the normalcy of it, the ordinariness of my waking, Almaz rattling in the kitchen, my work. My classes, my rounds with the senior students. Seeing you and Shiva at dinner, then going to sleep with my wife. I want my days to be that way. I don’t want everyone to stop being normal. To have all that ruined.”

And the everyday is beautiful, isn’t it? I’m reminded of this as we move, unpack boxes, and rediscover our life in all the material objects of the everyday.

I begin cherishing our "normalcy."

Toast crumbs.

The sound of slippered feet.

His wet hair combed down.

Puckered lips.

Backpacks and boots.

A half-finished train set.

Family devotions (and no one still or quiet)

His warm half of the bed

The whir of the dishwasher

This, too, is holy ground.

* * * * *

Father, for all the good of the everyday, I thank you.

I thank you for what is ordinary and for what I am likely to take for granted.

I thank you for waking to the breath of my husband and the sound of my children.

I thank you for this day, the unspectacular, the everyday. It holds a beauty and purpose that I can easily miss.

I thank you for Jesus, who reminds me that a small life, tucked into the most unsuspecting corner of time and place, is a beautiful life, a holy life.

And whatever good you have for me to receive and to do today, give me the eyes to apprehend and the willingness to embrace.