Making the shift from ‘ordinary’ to ‘ordinary magnificence’
By Peter Finkle
How many of my typical morning moments listed below are also part of your ordinary morning?
My Ordinary Morning Starts
I wake up
Open my eyes
Gently stretch and stand up
Put on clothes and slippers
Say “Good morning, sunshine” to my wife
Walk down hallway
Turn thermostat to 68° F
Turn on kitchen light
Fill teapot with fresh water
Turn on stovetop burner to boil water
Reach into cabinet for a mug
Open tea drawer and choose lemon ginger tea
Hear teapot whistle as water boils
Steep tea bag for 5 minutes
Sip warm, soothing tea …
A new perspective on the ‘ordinary’
I am moved by spiritual teachers who remind us that we each have the potential to feel and live the “ordinary magnificence” of our lives.
I am moved by Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town.” Emily dies in childbirth and learns a life lesson from her fellow small-town citizens in the graveyard. She is able to re-experience a morning in her childhood. She is deeply moved by “clocks ticking,” “new-ironed dresses and hot baths” and, finally, simply, by the ordinary gift of “sleeping and waking up.”
“Oh earth,” Emily says, “you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?”
New insights on ‘ordinary,’ as seen with fresh eyes
Let’s take this insight from Emily — “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?” — and apply it to the first few minutes of our ordinary mornings.
- I wake up. (What a gift to be able to wake up, to be alive, one more morning in this Creation!)
- Open my eyes. (The world of sight that I take for granted opens before me.)
- Gently stretch and stand up. (Arms, legs and muscles are working one more day.)
- Put on clothes and slippers. (Owning clothes is something to be grateful for on a chilly morning.)
- Say “Good morning, sunshine” to my wife. (In this moment, in these three words, a shared world opens within me and between us — a world of gratitude I feel every morning I awake in this relationship.)
- Walk down hallway. (Walk…the “ordinary miracle” of body/legs/muscles all working. Down hallway … the gift of having a hallway to walk down in a home to live in with a roof over my head.)
- Turn thermostat to 68° F. (Not only body/bed/hallway/roof/home, but also heat —68° F heat.)
- Turn on kitchen light. (Not only body/bed/hallway/roof/home/heat, but also electricity that flows into our home and causes light to burst forth with the simple flick of a switch.)
- Fill teapot with fresh water. (Water, along with air, is the foundation of all life on earth. I have water … fresh water … clean water … to sustain me.)
- Turn on stovetop burner to boil water. (Yes, there is still more in addition to body/bed/hallway/roof/home/heat/light/water. Half awake, not even thinking about it, I turn a knob and heat jumps to life to boil the teapot water.)
- Reach into cabinet for a mug. (I choose the gift-from-my-son mug because it fills my heart with subtle warmth. Behind that subtle warmth is an overwhelming gratitude as I feel a bit of what it means to have a son, to have a loving relationship with my son and to have this simple gift-of-a-mug from my son.)
- Open tea drawer and choose lemon ginger tea. (For you it might be coffee, and another simple moment to elicit gratitude.)
- Hear teapot whistle as water boils. (From the barely audible sound of a sigh to thunder booming overhead, from car horns to calming music, life is full of sound, and I am suddenly aware of the gift of hearing.)
- Steep teabag for five minutes. (Breathe, five minutes of life.)
- Sip warm, soothing tea….
As I sip my tea
As I sip my tea, I think about the 15 completely ordinary everyday morning moments I lived this morning in just the first few minutes of my day.
As I sip my tea, I feel gratitude for each of the 15 ordinary morning moments.
As I sip my tea, I realize that the richness and depth of life is just as present while walking down the hallway or saying “Good morning” to my wife as it is when climbing a mountain, attending a church service, or going to a live music concert. Somehow, we sleepwalk through the day most of our lives and miss the richness of each moment.
As I sip my tea, I wish for myself — and for each one of us — more awareness of the “ordinary magnificence” that fills each of our lives.
Peter Finkle writes about Ashland history, neighborhoods, public art and more. See WalkAshland.com for his Ashland stories. Send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Richard Carey (firstname.lastname@example.org).