miraculously commonplace

“Dear old world. . . you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” ~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

My three youngest sit in the backseat of the van munching on sandwiches and carrot sticks. Dear sweet Anne of Green Gables entertains us with her deep scope of imagination as we listen to her story unfold. Trent and Hunter bravely set our course into new territory as I follow behind in the van embarking on the next chapter of our own story.

This particular northward direction (from Florida to Maine) holds new excitement. The land of happenings, dates, and people lay before us. The soil is marinated in history. This is where states adopt slogans such as “It’s Good Being First” (Delaware), “State of Independence” (Philadelphia), and “First in Flight” (North Carolina).

Miraculously Commonplace

miraculously commonplace

Everywhere we go there is amazing newness to be discovered. Yet, I find myself continually amused by the fact that I’m surrounded by people who are living out their own version of normal in the most ordinary way. In South Carolina we accompanied a crab fisherman who grew up along the banks of Hilton Head. The dolphins swimming by our boat were his version of the deer we see in Idaho–completely commonplace.

LANGUISHING LOVELINESS

“It’s funny, but have you ever noticed that the more special something is, the more people seem to take it for granted? It’s like they think it won’t ever change.” ~Nicolas Sparks, The Wedding

Its strikingly simple to adapt to your surroundings with such ease that the lovely languishes under the weight of the miraculously commonplace. As much as I’d like to claim otherwise, I am as strikingly vulnerable to this sad reality as the next person. For seven years we lived 20 minutes from America’s most beautiful small town (according to USA Today and RandMcNally), yet rarely made an effort to properly take advantage of the quaint and uniquely quirky Sandpoint, Idaho. We heavily considered including the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. into our itinerary this year. Yet in all my childhood years growing up in Northeast Washington State, I never once attended the Spokane Lilac Festival.

Annoying Propensity

I was recently reminded of this annoying propensity toward a prosaic point of view as we headed into the cozy northwest corner of North Carolina. Here the folds of the earth begin to gather together in a sudden contest of altitude. My breath was faint as I mouthed the words, “mountains” in an inaudible exaltation. Suddenly, after three months in the lowlands, my heart and mind remembered my first geographic loves: pinnacles, peaks and points. I’ve been wrapped in elevation for most of my life, yet I often have to step away before my true appreciation can seep in.

Overlooking Asheville, NC from the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Mark of Wisdom

“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I see value in identifying idiosyncrasies for the purpose of reforming habits. Truly beauty is bountiful and the seemingly ordinary carries with it the enormous weight of importance. The trick is to live within the margin of deep appreciation without slipping into the abyss of ordinary. I desire Emerson’s wisdom to see the miraculous in the common. I want to marvel in both the unusual and the familiar. The magnum opus that my Creator has set before me deserves my awe.

How about you? Do you find yourself struggling to find the miraculous in the common? When do you most easily find yourself breathless with awe? 

breathless

The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life. ~Frank Lloyd Wright

Cultivate (verb): to develop or improve by education or training; train; refine.

Not too long ago my husband and I were driving home from a date and discussing things we have recently learned about ourselves.  His discovery was along the lines of musical preferences while mine was steeped in education.  Trent identified a unique musical genre that transports and inspires him while I pinpointed a major player in the reason I enjoy homeschooling: I love learning new things each day. Both were tied to beauty.  Music holds beauty. Education holds beauty. I’ve been thinking about beauty a lot lately.  Most specifically, how easily it can be pushed aside, marginalized and minimized out of our day.  I’ve noticed that raw beauty often cannot be held.  Think sunsets, misty mornings, a moving sonata, children laughing, the smell of freshly baked bread.  I’ve been making mental beauty lists with the intent to keep the beauty around me from slipping through my fingers. I’ve pondered ways to plan, pursue, and practice beauty.  Turns out cultivating beauty isn’t always easy, natural or automatic.

Here is the start to my growing list:

  • nature.
  • prayer.
  • words.
  • actions.
  • art.
  • food.
Taken at face value, these words can seem a bit stale, but unpacking them reveals a deeper level of life waiting to be invested in.
Nature.  When was the last time you observed something in nature for more than 5 sustained minutes? Being surrounded by something can often lead us to take it for granted. My challenge is to notice and appreciate the things around me more fully.

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