Editor’s note: Throughout July, we’re celebrating 31 Days with St. Ignatius, a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality. In addition to the calendar of Ignatian articles found here, posts on dotMagis this month will explore ways of Experiencing God in the Ordinary. The inspiration for our theme is the new book by William A. Barry, SJ.
A sticker is usually a very ordinary thing. But not this one. It’s heart-shaped, which is appropriate, because the three-year-old who gave it to me offered a piece of her heart with it. That sticker, from her mom, was important to her.
“Will you keep it?” she asked hopefully.
“Forever,” I told her, which is true. I placed it on a journal page where seven years later, it communicates love as clearly as it did on the day I received it.
It’s just ordinary lemonade. But Kay is making it for the first time, and her joyful face revels in a simple task successfully completed. What a wonder is a child’s first anything. My heart overflows with love from some hidden well inside.
Everybody has a cell phone, but to little David who can’t talk yet, it’s magic. He’s discovering that pushing a button takes his picture. He smiles at himself and marvels at the miracle. And I rejoice as I watch him learn something new.
Trip to the Beach
A trip to the beach may be ho-hum for some people, but for me it’s a trip to meet God, who never fails to greet me through the ocean’s waves, the far horizon, and the people around me. It’s even more extraordinary with a granddaughter in tow. She sees treasures in rocks and shell fragments. She sets up a jewelry store in the sand, and I pretend to shop. No wonder I sit here in gratitude: I am so blessed in these ordinary times.
And yet I live a paradox. The pandemic is extraordinary, but days at home blur together in a mundane march of routine activities. I breathe in and out and slow my thoughts. A fierce wind blows through the window, and papers flutter off my desk. I light a candle in a protected holder and take a sip of water.
Four ordinary elements—breath, wind, light, and water—call God to mind. Jesus, who said he was living water, breathed on the Apostles. And a noise like a strong, driving wind blew on the day of Pentecost when tongues of fire topped each head.
Life is a puzzling set of contradictions. Take the everyday act of being grateful. A kind word is so small. But it changes the atmosphere between my husband and me, sheltering at home together. He frets over a problem at work during a break. We commiserate while sipping coffee, which he makes every day as an action of love. I don’t want to miss thanking him for this, even as I experience difficult emotions over things I’ve lost. He listens to my pain about missing the grandchildren, and he personifies God’s love to me.
And there’s nothing ordinary about that.
Learn about Six Fascinating Jesuits You’ve Probably Never Heard Of, today in 31 Days with St. Ignatius. Share that article by Mark Thibodeaux, SJ, and join the celebration on social media with the hashtag #31DayswithIgnatius.