"Time to get out of bed and resume the suffering."
(Quote from a depressed cowboy on Prairie Home Companion, Jan. 8/11)
I heard this said in a radio skit and laughed out loud. The irony was not lost on me at all. Most of life happens in the middle spaces, as several writers have phrased it, and those middle spaces can drive us nuts.
N.T.Wright, theologian, points out that the Christian creeds omit any mention of Jesus' life between the miraculous beginning and redemptive passionate end. And because we do not know what else to do with his life, we reduce it to 'an example,' and finally a red rubber WWJD bracelet.
Well, my life has some amazing moments: joys, healings, divine interventions etc. I think I have had more than my share of remarkable, if not momentous events. My experience of finding Mark will always be a highlight of my life. My mother's death and the month following it was so focused and human I still taste it in my mouth. I think most of my remarkable times hold sorrowful suffering and outrageous joy in tension - and certainly have been dosed by love. LOVE! Big Love.
But the reality is that more of my life is ordinary, mundane and middle bound than those bigger things. Every day begins around six, includes Special K, the news (often bad), a choice of clothes, a battle with hair, a list of things to do and lunch in a bag. My life moves around the same people, the same corners, the same physical challenges and the same routines day in and day out. Routines cannot really be said to be suffering.It is just that routines are so ordinary and repetitive they can wear out my soul while they wear out my boots. By their very ordinariness they become a weight.
Maybe the problem is that these long periods of time hide their meaning from me. When I was a young mom with three babies at home I used to sometimes lament that 'I had no reason to get up but to get three kids up who had no reason to get up.' Oh the birth was profound: celebrations, transformations, blessings - and then work. Oh the work. My work sometimes seemed so meaningless - a routine of wiping and feeding and cleaning and then doing it all again. Meaning got washed down the toilet with the diaper rinse.
So I am talking about the journey. The journey is often not exciting. But it matters, it very much matters. On the journey I am being shaped into a certain kind of person, depending on how I respond. Someone said that life doesn't happen to us. We happen to life. On the journey the new is still emerging, but in a quieter, gentler way. The journey through the middle matters. It just sometimes pulls me down.
So on this January day I am simply owning the drag of the quotidian (everyday repeated things) and lifting my eyes from the stony path. Because life is an amazing miracle even when things are impossibly ordinary and the treasures of middle spaces are found in the nooks and crannies, not at the tourist attractions and rock concerts. I am going to go slow when the going is slow, and remember to smile.
Because it is all part of being human.