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We crave excitement, drama, sensuality. Humans are drawn to what is extraordinary and are enchanted by the boundless imagination. A fairy tale story brings respite to life’s weariest sojourners. I suppose it’s how we’re designed. Yet I am convinced our desire for fantasy becomes perilous when we fail to appreciate the beauty of what is normal, routine, and even mundane.
My life is mundane. My story is neither exciting, scarred by adversity, and I’ve no heartbreaking testimony that could lead felons to repentance. But I believe these factors should never invalidate the significance in sharing one’s experience. Many conceal their hearts due to the fear of falling short of our self-imposed expectations to astound and amaze. Because of this, we fabricate our image: we strive to be remembered not by character, but by what is signature. We become a fantasy rendition of ourselves that evokes the biggest response. We emphasize what appeals instead of what is true. In short, we become a brand in order to appear extraordinary.
There is danger when we live like this. But perhaps the cheap thrill of a lofty yet complex falsehood is an easier option when a healthy dose of discipline is in order to gaze deeply beyond the ordinary. But consider the essence of art. Isn’t part of it the purposeful attribution of meaning to (or with) ordinary things? Isn’t dance but a progression of movements? Poetry a sequence of letters? Paintings a collage of color? And are not humans but an arrangement of dirt breathed on by God? Maybe Jesus didn’t reveal His miraculous power to certain people because developing the proficiency to recognize ever-still and ever-small Truth, meaning, and beauty in the ordinary is far more valuable an asset and disposition of the heart than being merely entertained by the parting of the heavens and earth. Is not a crucial element of faith in an unseen realm the Holy Spirit-lead ability to recognize the hand of the Divine within Earthly normalcy?
We could miss what is eternal when we don’t recognize its reality in the mundane.
If eternity itself could be gleaned from the mundane, imagine how much more. So I proudly present to you my mundane story. This is a story of a second-generation non-Tagalog speaking Filipino-American: not quite Filipino but not quite American. This is a story of a predominately White community in the suburbs. A story of a bachelor’s degree in nursing. A story of Hip-hop, art, video games, family, friends, life, and death. What good could possibly come from such a bland experience (even I think it’s boring)? I don’t know. But I know someone, somewhere will find something timeless.
For the rest of us, let us train our eyes and minds to identify beauty and sacredness in the ordinary; to treat what is normal as sacred. Above all, there is unrivaled freedom when we discover that all things- even the most painful things, the seemingly hopeless things, and especially the mundane things - are laden with divine purpose. If this is true, then everything is extraordinary.