Sacred Ordinary/Ordinary Sacred

Annie Dillard has (famously) said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”  This is a cautionary saying for those of us who live our days as the sandwich-makers, the sock sorters, and the finders of misplaced library books.  Therefore, Liturgy of the Ordinary has landed upon my reading list like a benediction, for in Tish Harrison Warren’s words, I hear the husky contralto sound track of Peggy Lee’s musical question “Is That All There Is?” Thanks be to God, Tish arrives at a resounding “No!”  The daily, mundane tasks that comprise civilization and self-maintenance on this planet are clearly not “all there is.”  On the contrary, they are shot through with the sacred — even all the repetitive and seemingly Sisyphean tasks that, while admittedly are sacrificial, seem hardly to be sacramental.

Liturgy of the Ordinary pushes back against the dualism that differentiates between answering emails and writing sermons, between talking theology over coffee and talking science fair project over milk and cookies because, for believers, ministry and everyday life are “intrinsically part of one another,” (p. 89).

Trish celebrates the reality that the spiritual disciplines that sustain the following life are quiet, reflective, and homely.  The trappings of devotion, even the elements of the Eucharist, can be found in any North American kitchen, and the inhale and exhale of communion with God around a verse of Scripture can, literally, be done with one’s eyes closed.

Since liturgy is, by definition, “the work of the people,” the faithful have been commissioned to do whatever is needful in the name of Christ.  Tish’s liberating thesis works itself out in the unfolding of the ordinary day of a wife, mum, ministry professional, and friend, a woman who chafes against the routine, who longs for a good night’s sleep, and who delights in the simple beauty of a vanilla steamer alongside a great novel.

The Glory of the Embodied Life

When we wake, no matter how  we wake (instantly bolt upright or groping toward consciousness), we begin our day beloved by God, and the staggering truth is that nothing we do in the course of each day will either magnify or diminish that standing.  Beginning each new day echoes that “first gleam of dawn” which characterizes “the path of the righteous” (Proverbs 4:18) at the outset of the Christian life.

Careening toward the age when it takes twice as long in front of a mirror to look half as good, it is a joyful thing to be reminded that “what we do with our bodies and what we do with our souls are always entwined,” (p. 39).  In taking on flesh, Christ decimated the false notion that the body is an evil burden and not worthy of respectful treatment and conscientious care. 

“Because of the embodied work of Jesus, my body is destined for redemption and for eternal worship – for eternal skipping and jumping and twirling and hand raising and kneeling and dancing and singing and chewing and tasting,” (p. 48).

capture

Tish Harrison Warren writes of the believer’s “everyday work of shalom”; of the “third way” in which we are neither Mary nor Martha, but are delighted to find our worship and our work as one; of the ministry of friendship, the sacrament of coffee, as well as the gift of rest.

I hope that you will click on over to Englewood Review of Books to finish reading my thoughts on this remarkable book in which Tish draws a clear line of connection between the activities of her daily routine and the pursuit of holiness.

//

This book was provided by IVP Books, an imprint of InterVarsity Press,  in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

62 thoughts on “Sacred Ordinary/Ordinary Sacred”

  1. Wow! Sounds like an inspiring book that’s just down my alley, Michele! I’ll have to check it out. Thank you so much for being the voracious reader, who then serves up morsels for us to taste each week at you table. Always a pleasure to visit, my friend!

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  2. Michele,
    Thank you for the continually needed reminder that I can neither magnify nor diminish my standing before a loving God. Also love the thought that Mary or Martha is not always an either /or proposition. Sounds like wisdom I can relate to.
    Blessings,
    Bev

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  3. Oh, this sounds like a book for me! I love this: “When we wake, no matter how we wake (instantly bolt upright or groping toward consciousness), we begin our day beloved by God, and the staggering truth is that nothing we do in the course of each day will either magnify or diminish that standing.” Amen! Thanks for sharing this title so beautifully- I can’t wait to check it out!

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  4. Hi Michele, your book reviews are always so thoughtful. I would be honored for you to review my latest book. It’s a free download on Amazon through the end of day today, Jan. 10. See my latest blog post for details. If you would provide a review for Newness of Life, I’ll connect it to my blog and both our audiences will benefit. What do you think? Blessings to you!

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  5. This sounds like a book I need to read, Michele! It is so true that sometimes I get frustrated when I realize how much of my time goes into just living and maintaining my family. So hard to remember that this, too, is ministry. And you’re cracking me up about having to spend twice the time in front of the mirror to look half as good. You and me both, honey! (And I’m surrounded by beautiful young women, like Chef Girl and Poet Girl, who remind me of those days in the past when I could still look great on 5 hours sleep. For them, it’s effortless!)

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  6. I love faith in real life, sacred in mundane, extra in ordinary. It makes God feel approachable to me because I have a whole lot of real mundane ordinary in my days. Finding him in those places makes all the difference.
    And this: “ministry and everyday life are “intrinsically part of one another,”” This is the heart of it. Amen!

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  7. Love this: “it is a joyful thing to be reminded that “what we do with our bodies and what we do with our souls are always entwined.”” It is so easily forgotten in my busy days. Thank you for the reminder!

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  8. I’ve put this book on my list! It sounds like a good book to help “balance” back into shalom! I especially liked this: “When we wake, no matter how we wake (instantly bolt upright or groping toward consciousness), we begin our day beloved by God, and the staggering truth is that nothing we do in the course of each day will either magnify or diminish that standing.” How that gets rid of so much of each day! Shalom, Mary! ~ Maryleigh

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  9. This book reminds me of Brother Lawrence’s “The Practice of the Presence of God.” I’m all about finding that “connection between the activities of her daily routine and the pursuit of holiness.” Because, I’m so not there yet! I think I’m going to have to add this book to the TBR list.

    Thanks, Michele, for sharing at The Loft today!

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  10. “shot through with the sacred”….oh how I love that!! This book sounds like a practical one that would help us walk through this life and make a difference in the lives of those around us. Thanks for telling us about it. Stopping in from The Loft.

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  11. Thank you for visiting my blog at the Loft link up! I really enjoyed reading your blog for the first time. And, as I sip my hot evening caffeine free tee with a bit of lemon I think we are kindred spirits. God is good. God is in the warm moments of his Word and ours. Jenn

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  12. Happy New Year, Michele!
    I breathed a sigh of hope as I read this because for sure, there has to be more to this life than this. While I’m glad I’ve found something much more meaningful in Christ, too often I slip into the mundane. But reading your words today reminded me to see the sacred in the small, seemingly ordinary moments of my day. Thanks for sharing Tish and her lovely book with us.
    Marva | SunSparkleShine

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  13. Oh how this is beautiful! Those ordinary days, moments, things that we want to discount are but secret and so sweet to our Savior. Thank you for this gentle reminder.

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