The Daily Practice:
PRACTICE A DAILY ROUTINE THAT INVOLVES OTHERS
The incarnation has made the mundane holy. It has made the ordinary sacred. If there was ever any doubt, God becoming man validates all of material creation as something that God intends to be divine - because he Himself lived it and is redeeming it still now. No longer can we think of the small parts of our lives as something uninteresting to the God of the universe. He has lived them too. And to reject their sacredness is reject the wholeness of salvation that Jesus brought near when he came to us.
Emmanuel - God with us. Yes, even in the ordinary.
One of the things that has changed in my life as I have (ever so slowly) transitioned from being a child to being an adult, is my emphasis on what kinds of moments matter. I used to think that life was lived for the rare opportunity to do something extraordinary, something brave and courageous when everyone was watching and waiting. Now I see that the life well lived is marked by patient attention to the one thousand moments offered to us everyday. By stewarding them well, even when it seems that no one is watching and no one cares, we build a life of meaning.
This is as true communally as it is personally.
The mark of my most significant relationships, is not just the exceptional, extraordinary evening of conversation (though that matters!), but the more ordinary rhythms of normal life that incorporate the people we love - or are trying to love. In that sense, to be a friend is to be invited into the ordinary of someone else's life. To be a spouse is to see the everyday ordinariness of your lover. To be a parent is to be present in the small moments of your child's life that - though they seem to have no significance - knit together the memory of family.
This is the heart of the communal routine. The incarnation of Jesus has brought significant to our insignificance. And now we, in turn, look to ordinary rhythms of life to be great lovers of neighbor. Celebrate the love of neighbor this Advent by leaning into some communal routine - however small - that puts you in the path of loving neighbor.
You have a lot of freedom here. Pick something that works well for your stage of life, something that is not so much overwhelming as exciting. Don't think as much of challenging yourself, think more of quieting yourself into some healthy routine. Here are some ideas:
- Go to the same coffee shop every morning on the way to work, order the same thing, and learn the baristas name.
- Call your parents to say hi at the same time each evening
- Have a five-minute nightly prayer or reading with your roommate
- Eat lunch in the cafeteria at work every day at the same time, see if you can get people to join you
- Carpool with someone to work
- Go through an advent calendar with your kids before bedtime
- Sit down for breakfast together each weekday morning
- Before bed, say a short prayer at your children's bedroom door as they sleep, maybe do it with your spouse
- Read a bedtime story each night at the same time
- Walk the neighborhood each evening
- Share a morning cup of tea or coffee at the same time
- Clean the kitchen together each evening, with no TV or podcast on, make small talk or just be quiet together