When Loving The World Is Work
I think these days wear on me more than others. These days of sameness - routine, boring, demanding. It’s as if my life is a machine that I have to keep feeding, and it keeps devouring and demanding more time and more energy and more thoughts and more and more and more.
My friend has a playlist of songs he titled “the beautiful mundane” and I’d be downright lying to you if I said that the default setting of my heart is to view the mundane as beautiful. It would be much more honest for me to tell you that the mundane is exhausting to me. I wake up in the mornings and make coffee in the same machine and I drink it out of the same mug. I go to the same classes and sit by the same people and do the same work of reading, writing, defining, studying. I eat the same foods for dinner because it’s easier that way. I scroll through the same timeline of instagram pictures with the same couples and the same dogs and the same dinners that other people have eaten. Before sleep, I put on the same sweatpants and the same old tshirt. I set my alarm for the same time the next morning to do it all again.
The book of James tells us that life is a vapor, and these days, I’m finding it is terribly hard work to love this vapor.
It is all so much of the same.
Richard Wilbur wrote:
"The soul shrinks
From all that is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessed day,
“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven."
I don’t know if the mundane will ever be completely beautiful to me, but I do know that Richard Wilbur was right to say that Love Calls Me to the Things of this World. And it’s something I have wrestled with and fought to understand - how to be distracted by these good things, how to be pulled and stretched in different directions, my attention divided. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and told them that without love, we are nothing. Without love, we add to the tireless noise. Love is hard, messy, beautiful work that looks like laundry and dirty dishes and uninteresting homework.
But it is good work.
Yesterday I spent hours in a used bookstore. I left my phone in the car. I bought coffee. I did homework and every few minutes, I got up and browsed a new shelf of books. When I finally left, a cashier checked out my small stack of books, and we laughed together. On the way back to my dorm, I listened to a John Mark McMillan CD gifted to me by a caring boy - “Because I love you," he said.
When these days are so ordinary and heavy with sameness, I pray that there is nothing in my vapor of a life that is not done in love.
-Morgan Jackson // @morgantea