Multitudes on Mondays: When We Realize Ordinary Life is an Extraordinary Gift
She stands in front of the small potted plants and studies the design of each leaf. Fingers the dry black soil. Wonders which one will grow best on the dresser in her bedroom.
She’d asked long ago if she could please have something of her own to grow. Something beautiful and alive. And I’d promised that we’d buy seeds in the spring. But here we are in the middle of winter staring at a display of straggly houseplants tacked carelessly at the end of the toothpaste aisle amidst the Saturday crowds in Wal Mart.
I had pictured something more colorful, blossoms of bright beauty bearing the hope of spring. A treasure from the local greenhouse. But she is thrilled with the common houseplant on the clearance rack.
She clutches her princess wallet in one hand and wipes a strand of blonde hair out of her eyes with another as she leans close to get a better look at the little pots. She bites her lower lip, thinking long and hard about her choice. Finally, she reaches for a plant with a green and ivory leaf.
How long do you think this one will live? she asks as she wraps her pink fingers around the pot and carries the little bit of life like a precious jewel.
I am tempted to confess my own flailing green thumb. Tell her of all the pots of green I’ve failed to tend. Of all the dried up sprouts I’ve failed to resurrect and buried in the big garbage can in the garage. But my confessions are silenced by her wide-eyed hope.
I glance at the sticker on the bottom of the pot. The words are blurred as if the pot had been left in the rain. Only one phrase remains legible: Medium sunlight. I picture the morning rays that dance through her bedroom window and return her smile. I hand the plant back to my little girl and assure her that we’ll do our best to keep it growing.
She grins at her little green slice of life and shrugs her shoulders in response to her own question.
I guess only God knows how long it will live, she says as she skips toward the cash register, leaving me with a clunky cart and an aching heart.
Only God knows.
A young family in our small town buried their teenage son this morning. The masses of mourners were too great to count. Teenagers sobbing like little children. Parents echoing their cries. A tragedy too sad for words.
Only God knew that this precious son would have but sixteen years in our world.
I breathe yet another prayer for his grieving family and survey my grocery list one last time. I hadn’t wanted to brave the crowded aisles today. But my grocery list has sat untouched since Tuesday. Somehow, it felt plain wrong to be planning next week’s menu while another mommy was planning her firstborn’s funeral.
I scan the snaking lines at the check-out counter. Long to leave before the tears start flowing again. Hannah waves from lane seven and I join her in line. Together, we unearth the mounds in our cart. I watch the cashier bag my groceries. Bagels and baking soda. Tomatoes and whipping cream. Cereal. Gatorade. Elmer’s glue. The stuff of ordinary life.
I picture the face of the handsome young boy who just traded the dust of earth for streets of gold. Picture his beautiful mama whose feet are still stuck here.
Who first called life ordinary? And why do I often live like I believe that?
Hannah is waiting patiently behind me. Beaming as she cradles her tiny plant. Thrilled with the hope of life she holds tenderly in her hands.
There is nothing ordinary about a life rooted in His extraordinary grace. Nothing commonplace about being held in the palm of His hand.
Nothing monotonous about the miracle of growing.
The middle-aged man behind us sighs impatiently and glances at his watch. He scans the other check-out lanes for a quicker option. Veers his cart away toward the left and shuffles fast to another register, just cutting off a mother flanked with singing children.
Why are we always in such a hurry?
Hurry blurs the beauty of ordinary life. I run right by the wonder of today when I refuse to inhabit the present.
I miss the marvel of the moment when I fail to take hold of the tender sprouts of now and thank God for the gift.
Hannah hands the cashier her tiny plant. The check-out lady stares at the straggly shoots of green and raises a bushy eyebrow. “Did you see the roses we’ve got on sale over there?” She points toward the Valentine’s clearance rack. “Those are real pretty.”
“Yeah,” Hannah replies as she unfolds her pink princess wallet and pulls out three crisp dollar bills. “I just want an ordinary plant. I think this one’s beautiful.”
The Oveflow: “ Life doesn’t last any longer than a breath…. days are like a shadow that quickly disappears.” Psalm 144:4
Counting the gifts of ordinary life…Won’t you join me?
808. Mounds of laundry piled high, brown with the silt and dirt of Honduras
809. Maggie’s puckered lips offering a kiss: “Mom, I’m going to give you a treasure.”
810. HotWheels cars scattered across the floor.
811. Hannah sweeping out the play house.
812. A straggly houseplant sitting on Hannah’s dresser.
813. Groceries to unload. Meals to cook. Mouths to feed.
814. My feet tangled with my husband’s while he sleeps. Warm bed.