Monday, February 08, 2016

The Common Year: A year of music, writing, art, stories, and much more.....

The plaque on my wall says, "There Is Always, Always, Always Something To Be Thankful For." When I saw it for sale at the Dixboro General Store, I knew I needed to have that where it would be frequently seen.

 Every day is full of beauty, love, and the Presence of God. It really is.

OK. I'll grant you that not every day feels like a good day. In fact, on some days it can even feel that nearly everything has gone wrong. Yet, indeed, there is always something to be thankful for.

There are loved ones. There is the sunshine (sometimes) or a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Every season has it's beauty. And there are the things that the exceptionally blessed people (myself included) regularly overlook. Food on the table, a roof over our head, the warmth and comfort of home and beds, family, friends,...

How often do we just overlook the Beauty in the Common.

There is the darling child who just walked by, the smile returned to you by a cashier, the understanding of a friend, the joke that makes you laugh, that magnificent tree that you rarely look at, the lovely photo on Facebook.... The beauty is everywhere in the simple common things that are the stuff of life.

Ian Simkins is a pastor, a writer, a kind and generous man, and truly something of a philosopher. (He also just happens to be the brother of my son-in-law.) He has put together the project, Beauty in the Common, and the fascinating multidimensional offshoot, The Common Year.

The Common Year is divided into twelve themes, one for each month, describing various dimensions of beauty in the common rhythms of daily life. The theme for February is Beauty in the Stillness and I had the privilege of contributing a piece for the first week. It starts:
There had been a heavy snowfall. As is my habit, I set out, shovel in hand, to clear the snow from the sidewalk and driveway. I knew it was good exercise and somehow I thought that was the reason I enjoyed it. 
 The night was quiet, all sound muted by the heavy accumulation of snow. I scraped my shovel along the concrete. In the distance there were faint sounds of other shovels scraping. A dog barked far off in the distance. Somehow, with no other people in sight, I felt the unity of myself with others. Here we all were, trying to survive in a climate that would be barely habitable were it not for modernity. 
 I chuckled as my breath froze with each exhaled exertion, and I realized it was not the exercise that made this somehow pleasant.  I don’t even like to exercise.  It was the silence. The relentless cacophony of everyday life had been paused....
To read the entire piece go to this link.

Many thanks to Pastor Ian for this invitation to slow down, to see the beauty all around us, to be still, and to know the Presence of God.

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