There are sacred and beautiful things all around all of us all the time, but we have to cultivate the capacity to enjoy them. This is a re-run an old piece that I hope will encourage you to see the sacred in the common things around you.
Wise men realize that after the years have come and gone the daily routines we practice and the daily routes we travel will become sacred memories.
For a while I commuted to work in Columbus, Ohio in an old brown Volvo along Interstate 71. The gas tank was defective so I had to stop for gas every morning at a Marathon station out on the interstate. That wasn’t all bad. I could always get a free cup of coffee with a gas purchase and enjoy a friendly exchange with the attendants who worked there. I never knew their names but I am confident there were times I was able able to brighten their day.
Somewhere along the way I would overtake a friend, Bob Bevins, en route to work. Passing him I would wave and for a second our souls would connect in wordless agreement, each of us doing what needed to be done to feed and clothe and raise a family. I had a lot in common with Bob. Our love for our families required us to leave them in the morning and drive the opposite direction of the pull of our hearts. In the evening we would hurry back toward hearth and home to be with our loved ones again. On a good day I was able to coax the little Volvo into overdrive then I could get up to seventy miles an hour. In good weather I would open the sunroof and follow the tug of my heart back home looking forward to supper and the chatter of little voices around the table.
Each morning as I drove away from the big, white farmhouse and my sleeping family I would have a little pang of longing in my heart for them. I would steer my car down Bryant Road and across the bridge and then pull out onto State Route 95. Around Chesterville the warmth would begin to come from under the dash. Often I would spend the first part of my trip praying for the family and other things that were on my heart. After my stop for gas I would sometimes listen to news on the radio as I drove.
I usually enjoyed the solitude of my commute. It was time with the Lord and time to pray and think without interruption in the little “cocoon” of the cabin of my car. I liked knowing I was doing the one thing that had to be done at the time. Looking back I can see there is a sense of security and pleasure a daily routine and a daily route provide. There were times I would change my route for the sake of variety. I remember the old way to work with wistful fondness. When the routs and routines are a part of our daily obedience to God, part of the fulfillment of our god-given duties, then we see the sacred significance of them. They become sacred routes and sacred routines.
A Bit of Practical Advice
I am convinced that one difference between those who enjoy life and those who merely endure it is just this. Those who appreciate the sacred routes while they take them and those who recognize the sacred routines as they perform them are the ones who have a special capacity to find joy in life. I try to think how I will feel about a place twenty years from now. I try to imagine how I will feel about a person when I no longer have them. That helps me have a sense of appreciation for the routine and the mundane. They are things most people consider merely secular but are truly laden with sacred significance.
Kenneth L. Pierpont
Riverfront Character Inn
March 17, 2003