‘You Are What You Love:’ Accentuate the Ordinary

“In Smith’s diagnosis, one of the ways we neglect God is by refusing his humblest gifts. We might meditate on the readings at church, do a little devotional reading at home, and keep tabs on blog posts online, but we run the risk of ‘approach[ing] discipleship as primarily a didactic endeavor—as if becoming a disciple of Jesus is largely an intellectual project, a matter of acquiring knowledge.’ This chimes with my own experience. As a convert, I had to get out of the habit of only thinking about God and not actually praying and thinking with God. To read, analyze, and discuss can be fruitful, but to do only these things would be a lot like wooing your beloved by reading and writing about courtship but leaving out all the small affectionate touches, texts, and trivial traditions that keep you present in each other’s lives. It’s the boring things that ground a relationship. But, as Smith writes, ‘too often we look for the Spirit in the extraordinary when God has promised to be present in the ordinary. We look for God in the fresh and novel, as if his grace were always an “event,” when he has promised that his Spirit faithfully attends the ordinary means of grace—in the Word, at the Table.’

Clearing space for God at the beginning of our days or even just at the beginning of a specific task within the day gives us the chance to accept the graces and guidance that God is always offering. […] Smith writes about how he created one potent ritual of beginnings by accident, when he felt bad for the students taking his 9:00 a.m. class. He made them a promise that he would have coffee available five minutes before class, so that they could get their caffeine fix without making a harried stop on the way. Keeping that promise prevented Smith from beginning class frantically himself. He no longer had the option to work till the last minute; he had a hard stop he was forced to respect. Almost any preclass ritual might have won him this peace, but the particular act of preparing coffee helped him find an answer to the question he assigns to parents in his book: ‘We tend to treat our children as intellectual receptacles, veritable brains-on-a-stick…[b]ut what does it look like to parent lovers? What does it look like to curate a household as a formative space to direct our desires? How can a home be a place to (re)calibrate our hearts?'”

Read more at Commonweal