Friday, May 20, 2016

Daily Life Practice

The Spring my brother left to hike the Appalachian Trail, I gave birth to a baby. While he pushed through exhaustion and walked 20 miles in a day, I rode the cresting waves of labor. Each an exercise in survival.

At the peak, he'd rest and survey breathtaking views afforded only to those who do the hard work of getting there. At the peak, I lifted a fresh scrunched up soul to my chest, a miracle infused moment of triumph, pain and searing joy.

It's been a year. In some ways it feels as thought the adventure is over. What is life like after the vista? After the apex of upward toil, sacrifice, strength?

She's one year old.

I knit her a birthday dress made up of hundreds of rows, spiraling around and around, each one seamlessly starting the next, like the 365 days that made up her life. It's imperceptible, how a baby changes, until you look back. When did she get so chubby? Where did those teeth come from? Her first words, her first steps - they just came along and were swept up in daily life, one day bleeding into the next until, suddenly, she's one. Those first few days we marked by hours. 24 hours old. 36. 48. Then in weeks. 2 weeks. 6 weeks. Months and now, like the rest of us - years.

Each day feels so much the same as the last, and yet - we're all growing. It's what happens in the moments that don't feel or look like the big exciting ones. You grow.

It's another normal day that I wake up and remember. Daily life is spiritual practice. It is within the spiraling sameness of daily living that our faith is tested, refined, practiced and played out. This isn't the wait before the ride. It is the ride. In the constant, consistency of one day after another, one foot in front of the other, through the mundane - we practice. We struggle and, over time, we strengthen.

We make spirituality small when we believe it only fits in one Thomas-Kincaid painted box. We miss out on a bigger, all-of-life encompassing intimacy which is what Jesus has for everyone.

It is tempting to believe that we need to change ourselves to become holier, more devout. That we can chameleon our way into the Christian life. But that isn't how God works. God wants you. Just as you are. With your sense of humor, your unique giftedness, your passions and your temperament. People are all different. Christians are all different. This is by His perfect design. Spiritual life practice is less of Extreme Makeover and more of a gentle reshaping that preserves and enhances what was there all along. He takes you, and all that you are, and grows you as you go along. One day at a time.

Sweaters are made up of hundreds of them. Row after row. Lives too. It's not til you get to the end and hold it up that you can fully see how far you've come. How a life can knit a garment of love.

I flip back the covers and my feet find the cold wood of the floor. It's morning and it's time to get started on the next row. Around and around we go.

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