Ten Thousand Steps of Ordinary

Everyday is one of ten thousand steps taken without a thought. Unless you have gout or something like it. Once, I was afraid I might be getting gout. This was probably because my oldest brother had already had it. And he carries a gun. For some reason this made the possibility of me getting gout more possible. Because I don’t even know anything about guns. Looking back I know they are not related but fear does weird things. So I thought, “Wait, If my brother who carries a gun can get gout, I can get gout, even though I am much younger and I have no idea what gout feels like.” I didn’t have gout. But for a few days just putting one foot in front of the other was not so ordinary.

We live as if the only steps that matter are the ones, which take us across the threshold of our destinations or the false ones, resulting in twisted and swollen ankles. All the others are ordinary, forgotten because they are numbered among the many steps never noticed. Now don’t get me wrong, we take sharp objects away from those who we find taking notice of every step; careful that each one is taken properly. Or we videotape them and then change their diaper and give them a bottle.

You know the question, “If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” Your Sunday School teacher is wrong, some questions are dumb. And that is one of them. We tend to think that if we do not see something, hear it and so not notice it, then it either did not happen or if it did, it was inconsequential. So the tree does not make a sound.

But what if all these small things we do, like taking a step and blinking and buying bread were no less exceptional simply because we have called them ordinary? Simply because we have not noticed them. Simply because they are numbered among that which we must do daily.

And yet these are our days. For most of us our days are full of this stuff. Each twenty-four hour period is a mass of the ordinary. Even the most exceptional people must be involved in the ordinary.

My wife went to lunch with a lady at our church today. So I was at home with my 2 sons. My daughter was at school. My wife was enjoying soup and sandwich at Panera. It was just us guys. So we got loud.

One of my kid’s favorite toys was also one of my favorite toys: measuring tape. You know the kind with a button. My fascination as a young boy was in the form of light sabers. I am not sure what it is for my kids. But they love these things. We buy them crazy nice toys and they want to play with measuring tape. Go figure.

So, Knox (4) and Dylan (18 months) and I are playing with measuring tape. We have it stretched out with one boy holding each end and one holding it in the middle. And we just shake it so that it is so loud, you cannot even hear our collective. I look over at Dylan and he is so happy, his smile is taking over his face and drool is pouring over his naked gums. He stands there so beautiful in his jumper with a dump truck on it. And while I am thinking about this, I start thinking about it. I’ve done this sort of thing many times and not noticed the wonder of it all: the wonder of a father and son, the wonder of a child smiling at such a small thing, the wonder of his wanting to do this with me.

What if I had not noticed it and just done it?

Would it be any less wondrous?

Are these moments ordinary only because we do not notice them and then forget them in the chaos and conflagration of all that is being a parent?

The irony is we need the perspective of God while realizing we do not have it. (Hang on. I promise this will make sense.) If we acknowledge there is a God and he knows and notices everything, then even the little moments of ordinary matter. We need to realize this. But we also need to realize that we are not God. We do not see everything. Heck, I have trouble seeing beyond my own nose most of the time. And I do not have an unusually large nose. At least I don’t think I do. I…we cannot see the ends of all things and cannot the glory in the ordinary. Why? We are not God. We are limited created beings. So we may not be able hear the tree falling in the forest but this is no reason for us to think it did not thunder.

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