Benedict says to simplify. He says to do the physical work in front of me, to do it unto God. Not from guilt, not from fear, but as an offering that God might take it and make it beautiful.
All that I long to be: the woman grateful for her life and at ease in the world, begins with allowing God into the mundane, into the earth of my life.
I decided to love my life and to be satisfied in Jesus. I wanted to live as his friend. I wanted to believe the love of my Father, to be his girl child.
Amber C. Haines
So Christmas and New Year have come and gone. The bustle and hum of visiting family and outings has faded away. Last week we spent almost every day on the beach, feeling the heat of the sun and the icy chill of our West Coast waters, coming back home to enjoy the pool and the garden, and to delight in the sweetness of time spent together. It was a beautiful festive season, full of family and old friends. It was a time touched by sadness too; my father-in-law was unexpectedly diagnosed with a serious illness, the impact of which we have yet to fully understand.
I think back on the last few weeks. I think of my little niece in my arms, squealing with delight as the waves crashed against our skin, a seal surfing joyfully in the breakers nearby. I hear my brother’s laughter mingled with that of my sons’ as he teased them, jokes shared with my sister-in-law. I taste the cherries my mother-in-law sent for us to enjoy on Christmas Day. I see my parents, their happiness at having their family gathered around them evident in their smiles. By the end of last week, I was exhausted; I felt the way you do after a day filled with happy memories, spent and tired and full of the lightness of joy.
Now it is back to the everyday. Next week our younger son begins his Matric journey. Our older son will move more fully into the world of work and responsibility. I have goals and plans for the days ahead. Already, there are highlights to anticipate. My birthday is coming up soon; I have a trip planned for March. There will be other birthdays and anniversaries and moments of celebration. But most of life is lived in the in-between times, in the getting out of bed to chores and to-do lists. There is the slow, patient work of growing my dreams and hopes into realities, the releasing of myself into each day’s calling, with a whole heart and a quiet mind.
As I prayed in the stillness of my home a few days ago, I was reminded that the challenges of 2015 will follow me into 2016. Some things will continue to be hard. But I also heard the whisper of my Father, telling me that his love and presence are unshakeable. I have been so aware in these past weeks of the richness and beauty woven into every day of my life, even in brokenness, even when I feel sad or anxious, even in the mundane and ordinary.