It is getting late, as I tuck in a full day, the wind wrestling its way ’round my cabin. Snuggled under the blankets, I think back on the day… I awoke in the golden arms of the sunrise, a day older. A year older. A decade older. It is not often that these round milestones are placed in our palms, slipped into the pockets of our lives. They are a gift, marking a still moment to pause and reflect on the many hours and days that have built the last ten-year span.
I wonder if I have spent the first day in my thirties well. I question if I invested the days of my twenties wisely. Things did not go according to my plans this day, but they rarely do. Still, there were sweet gifts, surprise phone calls, dinner and ice cream with friends… There were cards, full of life-giving words, penned by some of my dearest friends. Words of hope and kindness. Inspiration to live worthy of my calling to display the Beauty of the Lord and his holiness. One note, with bold, black-inked words proclaimed—approximately—”Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and he will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted, and courageous. Yes, wait and he will help you.”1
Brave. I taste this word on my palate as if it has never escaped my lips before. As one who comes knowing that God is my Light and Salvation, I need not fear, I have only to be brave in his strength. Stouthearted. This reminds me of wholehearted, a word I have been meditating on in the last few weeks. Yet stouthearted is nuanced differently. It implies one who will not falter in battle, who will bear up under trials. Yes, this is something I desire.
The last triplet-word rises before me: Courageous. I think of the many individuals I know who have the courage to get up every morning, to live a life they did not—would not—choose. They bear the marks, the cost, of another’s choices. It must take whole oceans of courage in their veins to stand firm each day, I think. My life is not shaped by such trials. Do I, too, need courage? New Covenant words flit into my mind: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.2 Yes, I need courage! Though I live under this present darkness, I take courage in the words, The LORD is my light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid3
Who knows what the upcoming days of my thirties will hold? I don’t know the mile-marking joys and sorrows to come, and I am glad. I would become impatient or burdened knowing that such things were ahead still. What I do know, as I listen to the wind howl and pull my quilt closer, is that every day will bring its “dailyness”. There will be dishes to wash, laundry to fold, books to mail at work, food to be made and enjoyed, friends to hug, smiles to give and receive, and prayers shot like arrows toward Heaven throughout the day. There will be songs to sing, children to hold, hands to hold, sorrows to bear. There will be sharp words when I lose sight of Kindness. There will be life-giving words from the Spirit of God to breathe into souls. There will be the daily, walking hand-in-hand with the Eternal. In short, there will be the every day I already know, and the everyday life that comes with aging bones and bodies.
Daily dishes, wrote words of liturgy, or our own stale thoughts can seem dull, mindless, and lifeless. But when Christ, who is our life, breathes daily into us, we surge with liquid life. Much like Aslan in the Narnia stories breathes upon creatures turned to stone, restoring their life, Christ restores meaning and joy in our quotidian moments. Folding laundry becomes built-in prayer time. Liturgy becomes the rhythm of life, keeping us in step in the Great Dance. God infuses our listless, rutted thoughts with new perspective—gained from friends, new-to-us books, a song, or by simply opening our eyes to Scriptures we have seen a thousand times, but have not known until now.
Annie Dillard once penned, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”4 If I am aware of God in the midst of soapsuds and repeatedly sliding discs into plastic sleeves, in the writing of words and the sharing a smile; if I breathe out “Lord have mercy” and inhale his mercy, then I am learning life-rich liturgy rooted in Christ. That seems a good way to live a day, a year, a decade…and a life.