Leisurely I began spinning the pedals and brought dormant muscles to life as I hit the local bike trail this afternoon. The pavement felt smooth under the skinny road bike tires and I was glad to be moving my body.
As I began the ride I glanced to the left. I noticed nothing new or strange, nothing majestic or arresting. It was a simple view of everyday elements I’d passed by dozens of times before – a small grass-covered hill with a handful of puffy clouds floating above in a soft blue sky. But at this mundane scene I was instantly filled with joy and I laughed out loud in sheer delight of the glory I sensed.
This bike trail actually winds around a landfill. Overhead circle numerous vultures. On most days the direction of the wind lets you know full well that refuse lies just beyond the hill. But in this moment, the simple elements of creation cried out to be admired and savored and rejoiced in, and so I did.
I was reminded once again, that the extraordinary is everywhere in the ordinary.
But I had not noticed much I would call extraordinary the past few weeks. As I fought a couple rounds of illness since late December, my world became small and bleak, focused on my own misery. Finally feeling close to normal after two weeks with the flu, I slowly began to appreciate once again the blessings woven into each day. And on Sunday at Tampa Covenant Church one of our dear pastors, Lou Kaloger, spoke the words that fully awoke my senses again to this precious truth – that because of God’s glory filling the whole earth, there truly is extraordinary to be found all throughout ordinary life.
This is a philosophy I strongly believe in – that all around us are incredible things to behold and savor, infused into this world by the Creator, if we will but truly see and hear and feel. But oh how often I forget, and focus binocular vision on all I perceive to be wrong, on all I deem imperfect or annoying or discouraging, on all I don’t have.
I’m thankful that a change in mindset is sufficient to reinvigorate a life of looking beyond the mundane and into the deep amazement that lies behind the surface – the exquisite beauty of simple things we may so easily take for granted like trees in all their variety, fresh air, rays of warming sunshine, magical floating clouds, the helicoptering hummingbird in our backyard, the two feline brothers chasing and wrestling across the living room, the moments of sweet laughter or tender compassion in conversation with a loved one, the first bite of succulent ribeye steak fresh off your grill, a tall glass of cold clean water after exercise.
Pastor Lou’s words resonated deeply with me, because this is the life I yearn to live with my wife – intentionally seeking to truly see, and then savor, all the moments of glory our Creator has lavishly adorned each day with. Yes, it’s a troubled world in many ways. The news is filled with stories of agony and destruction and misery. Our lives are often difficult. Suffering can be a constant companion. But within the fabric of this reality are undeniable threads of extraordinary beauty waiting to be appreciated. And when I focus on this seeing, and my heart wells up with delight followed by thankfulness to my God, it is medicine for my soul that spills over and spreads joy and contentment in a world that needs as much healing as it can get.