In the Midst of Ordinary Life

A week ago, the Japanese were working, playing, and studying, when the ground began to shake. The shaking continues–after tsunami, on to radiation releases with long-term consequences. Economic shaking will ripple through their bank accounts. In the midst of their ordinary lives, they have awakened to the extraordinary.

Though we may be thousands of miles removed from this current shaking, we ache with them because we know what a life changed in an instant feels like. Even if whole pieces of our country and economy have not been devastated, many of us have answered the phone call or opened the door to a reality that shifted our personal foundations.

Especially if we are Americans, the very normality of our lives can lull us into a kind of short-sightedness. We forget that we will all die. We wake up, we eat breakfast, we go to the office or to the kitchen for our daily work. We drive home through rush hour traffic or we ride the train or we wait for a spouse to return from his or her work.

The days pile on each other, in a rhythm that lulls us into certain kinds of expectations. We do not expect the ground to shake today. We expect our spouse to return with a smile, our children to live to adulthood. We expect life to go on, as we know it now. Though we vaguely know we’ll die someday, it seems far off.

And yet. Life will not always be as we expect. There is an end coming. Psalm 90 teaches us to “number our days.” Indeed, our days can be numbered and wisdom keeps that in mind, in the ordinariness of our everyday lives.

Father, we pray for mercy for the people of Japan. And we pray for wisdom for all of us, to recognize the deeper realities. For your glory and your coming kingdom. Amen.

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