Life is stranger than we think it sometimes, and we do not always recognise its strangeness. It’s too easy to become trapped in what we think we always do, in our routines, and not to step back and see that everything around us is odd.
Our son is getting on for 18 months, and he seems to find the world quite weird. He is always pointing things out, with his ‘Oh’, which seems to say: ‘Would you look at that?’ I try to take an interest with a similar quantity of amazement, which is not always easy, when he just seems to be pointing at a blob on the wall, or at the ceiling.
I’m reminded of G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, where he writes the following:
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
Perhaps God created us for the joy of seeing us shout: ‘Do it again’, and ‘Do it again’ when we saw the numinous miracles of creation, the tiptoeing sunrise, a furious sea, a fabulously large herd of buffalo. For us, the world is richer when we view it through someone else’s eyes, when we share the wonder and can articulate the glory of existence.
Falling in love is again a chance to experience everything fresh, to ‘do it again’, to ‘do it again’, with your beloved. We look at the world and agree that it’s amazing, but we are not convinced that it has been put here just for us. But:
When my King-Lover lay down beside me,
my fragrance filled the room.
His head resting between my breasts—
the head of my lover was a sachet of sweet myrrh.
My beloved is a bouquet of wildflowers
picked just for me from the fields of Engedi.
Or further on in Song of Solomon (rediscovered for me this week by reading it in Peterson’s ‘The Message’):
Get up, my dear friend,
fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Look around you: Winter is over;
the winter rains are over, gone!
Spring flowers are in blossom all over.
The whole world’s a choir—and singing!
Spring warblers are filling the forest
with sweet arpeggios.
Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed,
and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms.
Oh, get up, dear friend,
my fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Come, my shy and modest dove—
leave your seclusion, come out in the open.
Let me see your face,
let me hear your voice.
For your voice is soothing
and your face is ravishing.
It’s only that last section that I prefer in the New King James at the moment: ‘your voice is sweet and your face is lovely.’
Every day, not just the weekend, our Lover is calling us to come away and to taste and drink of the delights he has prepared for us. Not to live in those delights is not to live. To plod with head down, preoccupied with our own anxieties, with what others have said, with what we have to achieve, with our failures, with our regrets, burdened with our sins and our past, is to miss the joy that our great Lover has prepared for us in that moment. While time is a thief, and a robber, it is also a fragile gift, and an irrecoverable opportunity to show we love Him, who loved us so completely and so unfailingly.
Recently, I’ve taken to thinking of work as ‘pots and pans’, just as Brother Lawrence was able to praise God amongst the pots and pans as he did the washing up. I’ve been half-forming prayers such as ‘meet me in the pots and pans’, and thinking of work in this way helps to cut it right down to size. A Christian sister prayed on Wednesday night at our Life Group that I would mark work for school in ‘half the time’. These are the wonderful, tasty trifles that my Lover prepares for me on a daily basis. Life is SO exciting, SO strange, because that’s where we meet Jesus – he waits for us wherever we go.