Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"I Like Monotony"

"P.D. Mercer"

I was ready. This morning's blog was to be a meditation upon a culture that produces anxiety and dissatisfaction as it embraces image management and self-fashioned lifestyles. In a postmodern world, we're not supposed to be thankful for grace; we're supposed to be courageous self-actualizers. "America is a country," writes Ralph Wood in Contending for the Faith, "in which no one can be too slender or too rich." "We have all become consumers within the marketplace of personal choices; no matter how contradictory." Our "consumerist culture of comfort and convenience" has conspired to produce more sophisticated consumers not more virtuous disciples. I was ready.

Then, I lost my dog. He's nothing special, a small, five-year-old Boston Terrier who answers to "puppy"--we're not very creative with names. But he's ours; and he's gone. We prayed, emailed the Belhaven neighborhood association, then took to the streets with several flashlight wielding neighbors. Nothing, not a trace. We fell into our beds exhausted and brokenhearted. Some of you know the feeling.

This morning the sun came up early--in more ways than one. The phone rang. P.D. had wandered his way into the embrace of a loving family a few blocks away. After enjoying a good meal, he spent the evening romping on the floor with two young children before settling in for the night under the toasty covers of the master bed. He's home now. I'm glad he can't talk, I suspect he would have refused to come home.

"I like monotony," C.S. Lewis told Time magazine in a 1947 interview. He is not saying that he likes boredom. He is calling us to reject being herded like proverbial sheep through the chute of discontentment, covetousness, and greed. He emphasizes that every ordinary moment of every ordinary day is charged with eternal significance. There is no such thing as an ordinary day or a mere mortal. What do we expect when lift our eyes in prayer to God? We expect and desire daily, hourly grace.

Psalm 123:1-2:

To Thee I lift up my eyes,
O Thou who art enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress;
So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
Until He shall be gracious to us.

This Thanksgiving, don’t miss the significance of every breath you take, of faithful friends, good conversation, a moving memory, a long walk, an autumn afternoon sunset, a weekend at deer camp, hot coffee, tailgating, or the return of a lost dog!

Hear Lewis:

Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment 'as to the Lord.' It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Nate Shurden said...

Thanks Brad.

Your post reminded me of a quote I have long treasured from Chesterton's "Orthodoxy." For him, a Christian vision of living centers on the so-called "monotony" of everyday life; the daily activities we perform which express our oneness with God and the world He made.

Children maybe our greatest teachers in this:

"A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore." -G.K.C.

Bradford Mercer said...

Great stuff n8. Thanks.