I tried to picture space going on and on without end.
I attempted to grasp the idea of numbers never ending – there could always be one more.
I thought of God – having no beginning and no end – how could that be?
I just realized I don’t do that anymore.
Now I live in the real world of boundaries, measurement, preconceived ideas of how far we can go and what is possible; the world where there are things to be done and only so much time to do them. A necessary world, in some ways anyway.
When I was a child, the world of the small and ordinary didn’t seem so small and ordinary, but important, intriguing, and beautiful.
The ants building an anthill on the sidewalk
The blue color of the flax growing in the field
The smell of clover
The sight of an egg appearing in the chicken coop where there hadn’t been one hours earlier
The taste of fresh peaches, sweet corn, and cinnamon toast.
Somewhere along the line, something changed. I left behind the world of childhood and entered a world where only big things seemed important and child-like things seemed. . well, childish.
Maybe it’s inevitable. We have to get things done, we have to measure things, we have to produce and meet deadlines. We have to live in the real world.
Sometimes when we least expect it, however, in the middle of an ordinary day, we get an inkling that there’s more – there’s something just beyond our grasp that we long to connect with once again, but we know we need to slow down, maybe even stop altogether to make that connection and who’s got time for that?
Is it our culture that causes us to miss out on the magic in life? Our lifestyle? Our institutions? It could be, but we each need to stop ourselves from time to time and see if we’re living the life we want to live in the way we want to live it.
If might help if schools weren’t all about measurement, standards, and tests, and were able to encourage curiosity, wonder, and the love of learning.
It might help if business were more about serving and less about profit at all cost.
If might help if families had time for each other and for their neighbors.
It might help if eating, and the growing and producing of food were considered the sacred things that they are.
It might help if peacemaking and peacekeeping were honored and highly esteemed.
It might help if justice was more about repairing harm, making things right, reestablishing connection, accountability, healing, and strengthening rather than simply punishment and someone making a profit from it.
Yes, all those things might help, but they all start with individuals – individuals who decide that life is too short and precious to live off someone else’s agenda or to gain the world at the expense of their own soul. We can’t go back to the carefree days of childhood, but we can start today to see the world with new eyes that see everyone and everything as important and every day as a miracle. We can refuse to always be in a hurry or to buy way more than we need, or put programs before people. We can support people and causes that place a high value on wholeness and sustainability.
We can stop to contemplate the vastness of the universe from time to time and the beauty in the petals of a flower or the smile of a baby. We can be grateful for everything we use and enjoy in our lives today from the computer to running water to a comfortable bed with soft sheets and a pillow. We can stop taking things and people for granted. And we can certainly learn a lot from people who the world often looks at as unimportant – children, the disabled (who are often people with different kinds of abilities that the rest of us don’t have), the elderly – people who at first glance look like they can’t do anything for us, but with a closer look have so much to show us.
We have to live our lives – pick up kids from school, get to work on time, cook dinner, mow the lawn – but when we’re picking up those kids we can look them in the eyes and smile and be grateful; when we go to work we can give thanks for a job and be a bringer-of-light to our workplace; when we cook dinner and sit down to eat we can enjoy and appreciate every bite; and when we mow the lawn we can stop for a second and look up at the sky. . . and contemplate infinity.