Learning to love the details
Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel
I've had a bit of trouble lately with the me/world connection. You know, with seeing the significance of "daily life" in the context of a world that sometimes seems in big trouble.
Mostly, I've been questioning life's details - grocery shopping, making meals, working to earn a living, the usual bits of yarn that knit the day together. I've found myself wondering, "How can I go about these activities with real joy, when, in the face of what's going on in the world, they seem almost inconsequential?"
Renowned modernist architect and furniture designer Ludwig Mies van der Rohe knew something about details. One of his primary rules of design was, "God is in the details." Albert Einstein had a different slant. "I want to know God's thoughts," he once commented; "the rest are details."
When we step outside our "little lives" and see God as the Life that fills all space, both of those statements have a beautiful potency, because they both point (though from different perspectives) to the fact that God is the source of life's meaning. So, seeing ourselves in the context of the God who is everywhere offers enormous possibilities for enriching the specifics of our day-to-day lives. And no matter how troubled the world may look at the moment, we can contribute something that blesses the bigger scene, as I learned when I decided to follow the spiritual discipline of loving "the details."
Morning is always rushed at our house. I have a faster clock than does my 14-year-old daughter. She travels to the beat of her own, slower drum, and sometimes our different concepts of time cause conflict. I would get grumpy over her pace, and then she became grumpy because of my grumpiness. This little detail of our mornings clearly needed to be lifted higher.
So before getting up one day, I thought about "my life" versus God as Life itself. Versus means against. "Is it possible," I wondered, "for my life to be against - and therefore apart from - the eternal Life?"
The words of a favorite hymn came to mind: "I know no life divided,/ O Lord of life, from Thee" ("Christian Science Hymnal," No. 135). In those few moments before getting up, I prayed something like this: "If God is the source of undivided life, then two beings in His creation can't be at cross-purposes." Wasn't this an opportunity to see that God's time and God's order rule, and not "different clocks"? That the one divine Mind is our loving Parent, guiding both of us - His children - moment by moment, not only through this day but throughout eternity?
I had an opportunity to practice what I prayed fairly soon, over breakfast. It took some humility to see that we weren't in a race against time. The day's send-off improved immensely over previous versions, when I had tried to control things myself.
Later, when I sat down to pray for the world, I found humility was needed in those moments, too. I had to let go of strongly held opinions and grievances about how my government works, or doesn't work, and whether world leaders deserved passing or failing grades on their report cards. God doesn't use a pass-fail grading system. Rather, His grace and fairness are available to everyone, right now.
That same morning that my daughter got off to school on time, both of us at peace, I felt impelled to sit down and pray again before starting my work as a freelance writer. A real quiet came over me. I was sitting still for a change, instead of pacing and waiting for tea water to boil. A favorite quotation came to mind: "God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," page 307).
This simple fact sparkled in a way it never quite had before. God gives me - and everyone in my profession - all the ideas we need. And "daily supplies" means I don't have to worry about tomorrow's supply. Or next month's. Or next year's.
It was as though I had opened wide a door that had only been ajar. What was true for me and my profession had to be true for all nations. Health, growth, and renewal are natural for all of God's children, the byproducts of His love for us. This isn't happy-face hopefulness. It's a normal expectation.
God's details are in every step we take, and God's thoughts can guide every one of those steps. And that's a detail I will continue to love.