The Miracle in the Mundane

Stop staring into heaven, brothers and sisters, the angel says. Jesus is gone. Carried away on the clouds. Swept up into the sky. The fire has yet to descend and Pentecost is a week away. Go home, the angel tells the disciples. Go home and climb the stairs. Go home and say your prayers — and wait.

So, the disciples: Peter, John, and James; Andrew, Philip, and Bartholomew; Simon, the Zealot and Judas son of James; the women and Mary his mother; and James his brother and the other brothers return to Jerusalem. Caught between Easter and Pentecost, they gather in the Upper Room. Persistent in prayer, they huddle together, a family of faith.

Keeping the faith day in and day out. Off goes the alarm. Shower on, coffee brewed, shirts ironed, shoes tied, dishes done, laundry folded, and lunches packed. Off we go into the world later to return. Dinnertime. Bedtime. Rocking cranky babies to sleep. We persist in our household chores – waiting on an epiphany.

Same at work, right? Arrive at nine leaving long after five. We answer calls and keep our appointments. We write emails, file reports, see clients, meet with co-workers. We cram as much of ourselves as we can into a forty plus hour workweek. Earning a salary. Supporting our loved ones. We persist in our daily grind – waiting on an epiphany.

Our routine is more than routine. It is religious. It is ritual. Even the most minute of tasks can become a deeply personal act of faith.

So, this morning we find ourselves in the pews again. Gathered on this May sabbath, our sanctuary, this nave becomes our Upper Room. Sunday after Sunday, we lift our voices to the heavens and persist in our prayers – for the church, the world, the nation, the neighborhood, and beloved ones name by name.

Faith is found in weekly rounds — in the weekly rounds of what we might call the daily rut of daily life. Not in the flashy times, but in the in between times.

In the final act of Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town”, surrounded by the saints of Grovers Corners, young Emily lies in her grave in the cemetery on the hill. Buried beside her parents and her neighbors, Emily strikes up a ghostly conversation.

Emily aches with the memory of living and she longs to go back for just one hour, just one day to her farm and family, to her baby and her husband.

“‘One can go back, can’t they Mother Gibbs and live all those days over again?’

“‘To live it again and to see yourself living it will be too much for you,’ Mother Gibbs cautions Emily.

“‘But I will pick a happy day. That would be easy. A happy day,’ Emily replies.

“‘No!” Mother Gibbs insists. Choose an unimportant day. Choose the least important day. It will be important enough.’

“So, Emily picks her 12th birthday February 11, 1899. The whole day from dawn to dusk. The air is crisp and cold. She sees the sun come up over the drug store and the livery stable. Down Main Street, Emily recognizes the picket fence that encloses her childhood home.

“‘Oh how I loved it so. Is everyone inside?’

“Mama comes down the stairs to make breakfast.

“‘Look how sweet and fresh she looks. I never knew Mama was that young.’

“Mama hollers upstairs, ‘Children, Wally, Emily, time to get up. Come dress by the fire in the kitchen.’

“Emily hears herself call from upstairs. ‘Mama, where is my blue hair ribbon?’ And mama scolds Emily. ‘Just open your eyes, child, I laid it out on the dresser for you. If it was a snake it would bite you.’

“Papa comes in to read his paper. Mama leans out the door to bring in the milk.”

Now Emily the ghost sees Emily the girl, the girl of twelve. Between bites of bacon and swallows of milk, Emily opens her packages. The paper and string fall to the ground.

“There is a postcard album from Aunt Carrie.

“A party dress that Mama picked out of a catalog in Boston.

“And something that Wally, her little brother, had made — brown and rough and unrecognizable, that Mama wanted her to make a fuss over.

“And then her father calls to her. ‘Where’s my girl? Where’s my birthday girl?’

“And Emily the ghost breaks down. ‘I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I did not realize. So, all of that was going on and we did not notice.’

“Emily takes one last look at Grovers Corners. ‘Goodbye to clocks ticking and Mama’s sunflowers. Goodbye to food and coffee, newly ironed dresses, and sleeping and waking up. O Life, you are too wonderful for anyone to realize.'”

Now, back here on Russell Road, in our here and now, if we wistfully keep looking for God in the heavens, we may miss God altogether. Hope may spring eternal that God will show up in some extra-ordinary fashion — Deus ex Machina style, but our boring God persists in being ordinary. Woven into the fabric of our days: Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter, So close and so ordinary, we tend to not notice most of the time that God is there.

Between the weddings and the funerals, the births and the baptisms, between the high holy days of Christmas and Easter. Faith is found most profoundly in the in between times, the quiet times, the boring times. The sacred is found in the secular. The miracle in the mundane.

So, let me wrap up these thoughts with a down to earth Celtic daily prayer:

Kindling the Fire

This morning, as I kindle the fire upon my hearth, I pray that the flame of God’s love may burn in my hearth, and in the hearts of all I meet today.

I pray that no envy and malice, no hatred or fear, may smother the flame.

I pray that indifference and apathy, contempt and pride, may not pour like cold water on the fire.

Instead, may the spark of God’s love light the love in my heart, that it may burn brightly through the day.

And may I warm those that are lonely, whose hearts are cold and lifeless, so that all may know the comfort of God’s love.


Celtic Fire, Robert Van de Weyer, ed.

The miracle in the mundane.

Spirituality The Episcopal Church

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The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog

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