The fog has been rolling in once late afternoon arrives. The day is sunny, and generally begins sunny, so sometime during the night the fog rolls away, revealing the stars and bringing just enough cool moisture to help the day retain a Spring chill. The stars are out now, and so I don’t think it must be very foggy, though it’s hard to tell as it’s four in the morning, and very dark out.
I fell asleep on the couch last night, aware that I was falling asleep on the couch, and not worrying too much about it, even enjoying the process. The couch has this great view of outside, and so the sporadic sleep affords the delight of waking up and noticing the passage of the night sky and the darkening of the neighborhood towards stillness. It’s a scattered rest and yet one I valued, for I could wake up, say a prayer and so have a punctuated vigil of sorts, though not a kind any spiritual guide would recognize.
Now I am fully awake, and my prayers have left me, leaving me neither encouraged nor discouraged, nor really much of anything, except feeling that which is worth writing about, which is the spirituality of the mundane. This is an all too neglected topic, as this is the sort of spirituality which really encompasses most of our lives, at least those of us who aren’t hopping around the world, or engaged in constant heroics, or planning for the next big event. Of course the lack of understanding this kind of spirituality is likely that which pushes people into pursuing the more active, and the more forceful, kinds of spirituality in which things really seem to be getting done, or at least accomplished, or at least moving forward, or at least requiring effort that may or may not be worthwhile at some point.
The mundane times of life are those in which nothing really seems to be happening, though much may be happening, when one can sit back and realize that either one is waiting to hear a road is open for travel, or one has no impetus to travel whatsoever, leaving the soul in a holding pattern. Provoking the soul at such points may be effective, though curiously the cure for listlessness and laxity is not activity, it is a profound stillness pursued through quiet pursuits of the contemplative soul. The spirituality of the mundane is not really marked by occasions of great sin or temptation. The temptations reflect the environment of the moment, and so are rather mundane or anemic in themselves. Yet because of this they hold great power, as our conscience is not so much conquered as rendered languid.
A person can spend a lifetime in such a mediocre existence, stirred neither to great evil nor great joy, which isn’t really a great selling point to encourage others on the same path. Yet, in the spirituality of the mundane there is also a great boon. When nothing demands our purposeful attention we can find a measure of stillness that a time of spiritual weight cannot afford. We can find in the bland this beautiful reality, understanding that it is in such moments that one can rest, or not rest, in the Spirit, trusting, or not trusting, that God is the one who works. We can let go, or we can ignite our frenetic souls, eagerly grasping and tiring ourselves in the pointlessness of the mundane, becoming exhausted before the movement of the Spirit, leaving us of hardly any worth at all. We do when we shouldn’t do, and don’t do when we should do, confusing the world with our pursuit of some purpose when the purpose hasn’t yet called.
I note this because I had a rather mundane week. Planning for my upcoming projects were put off as the specifics of the projects became murky. Yet they are still upcoming so demand my attention, and yet that attention no longer has specific topics to rest upon, leaving me without focus, and yet unable to redirect my focus, leaving me to pause on a mountain I’ve half climbed, neither advancing nor retreating.
So, I wallow in the mundane, without a stirring of soul coming from any direction, noting the curious amount of encouragement I received on Monday, and wondering what it was all about, given that really nothing seems to be happening, either internally or externally. I wander in the mundane, trying to hold onto that measure of joy and fullness, losing even the stillness at times, a curious thing given that there is less to hold my attention.
There is only to pray, and to wait, and to have faith that what seems mundane holds more meaning than I know, or see, or hear, trusting that while God is doing a work he doesn’t always fill me in on the details, and expects me to do what I am supposed to do, whether I know the details or not. What I am supposed to do is pray, and wait, and to have faith that what seems mundane holds more meaning than I know. In doing this I transform the mundane into the profound, not by doing but by being.
At least that is what the spiritually mature say. It is always good to trust those who have gone before, not least because they hold a word of encouragement especially in times of empty mundanity. The world is not what it seems, they write, and reveal that it is in such moments as these that the fullness of the Spirit can be doing a rather marvelous work. If we are still enough to listen, this work can transform our souls.