20 Nov Giving thanks for ordinary moments
I woke up today. You woke up today. How many of my early morning moments are also part of your morning?
The first ten minutes of my ordinary morning
I wake up
Open my eyes
Gently stretch and stand up
Say “Good Morning, Sunshine” to my wife
Put on clothes and slippers
Use the toilet
Walk down hallway
Adjust thermostat to 68° F
Turn on kitchen light
Fill teapot with fresh water
Boil water for tea
Reach into cabinet for a mug
Open tea drawer and choose a tea
Hear teapot whistle as water boils
Steep tea for 5 minutes
Begin to sip warm, soothing tea…
Are these moments “ordinary” … or something more?
I am moved by spiritual teachers (in many forms) who remind us that each day is precious, and that ordinary moments of our daily lives are no less precious than exciting ones.
For example, the last time I saw Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town, I left the theater with tears of sadness and joy. In the play, lead character Emily dies in childbirth and learns a life lesson from her fellow small-town citizens in the graveyard. She is offered the gift to re-experience a morning in her childhood. Looking at her young self from the grave, Emily is suddenly overwhelmed and deeply moved by the commonplace experiences of “clocks ticking,” “new-ironed dresses and hot baths,” and finally, simply, by the gift of “sleeping and waking up.”
“Oh earth,” Emily says, “you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? — every, every minute?”
Let’s take this insight from Emily – “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? — every, every minute?” – and apply it to the first few minutes of our ordinary mornings.
#1. I wake up. (What a gift to be able to wake up, to be alive for one more day.)
#2. Open my eyes. (I normally take sight for granted; yet the world appears before me as I open my eyes.)
#3. Gently stretch and stand up. (Arms, legs, muscles and bones are working one more day.)
#4. Say “Good Morning, Sunshine” to my wife. (These three words re-open each morning a shared world of gratitude between us.)
#5. Put on clothes and slippers. (Being able to put on warm, comfortable clothes means a lot on a chilly morning.)
#6. Use the toilet. (My “inner” plumbing works again today. Also my “indoor” plumbing. I have lived where the toilet is an outhouse, so I try not to take indoor plumbing for granted.)
#7. Walk down hallway. (Being able to walk and having a home with a hallway to walk down are both simple yet profound.)
#8. Turn thermostat to 68° F. (Not only a home, but also a comfortable, heated home.)
#9. Turn on kitchen light. (Electricity flows into our home and causes light to burst forth with the simple flick of a switch. Taken for granted? Probably. Try to see it anew, even for a moment.)
#10. Fill teapot with fresh water. (Water, along with air, is the foundation of all life on earth. I have water…clean flowing water…to sustain me.)
#11. Boil water for tea. (Yes, there is still more. Half awake, not even thinking about it, I turn a knob and heat jumps to life to boil the teapot water.)
#12. Reach into cabinet for a mug. (I choose the gift-from-my-son mug because it fills my heart with subtle warmth, with an undercurrent of deep thanks that I have a son.)
#13. Open tea drawer and choose chai tea. (For you it might be your special coffee – and another simple moment to elicit gratitude.)
#14. Hear teapot whistle as water boils. (From the barely audible sound of a sigh to thunder booming overhead, from car horns to calming music, life is full of sound, usually taken for granted. This morning, I am suddenly aware of the gift of hearing.)
#15. Steep tea for five minutes. (Breathe, five minutes of life)
#16. Sip warm, soothing tea…
As I sip my tea
As I sip my tea, I think about the sixteen completely ordinary, everyday morning moments I normally perform on automatic pilot.
Today, as I sip my tea, I feel deep gratitude for each of the sixteen ordinary morning moments.
As I sip my tea, I realize that life’s richness and wonder is equally present while walking down the hallway or saying “Good Morning” to my wife as it is when climbing a mountain, attending a church service or going to a live music concert. Somehow, we sleepwalk through the day much too often and miss the richness of each moment.