John "No Man is an Island" Donne
Seeing the sacred in the everyday calls for a new way of seeing for some of us.
A cursory glance will not suffice. Beating a path through one's to-do list in record time leaves little room for noticing our surroundings. When we live rushed, frantic lives, we miss too much.
In 1622, John Donne reflected on the miraculous in the everyday. Donne said that if the mundane occurrences all around us were rare, we'd be astonished.
If it were unique, we'd behold it with wonder! Think about that possibility.
The sky darkens with rolling clouds, thunder cracks the air, rain arrives, driving downward from the sky, and passes. A rainbow appears in the East. We pause a moment to catch a glimpse of it, then go about our business. We've seen rainbows before. If this sequence were done but once -- or even every 100 years -- we would stare in awe and wonder. We would try desperately to capture it and record it for others for they would otherwise find it incredulous.
But, it's just another spring rain. And so we move on without noticing.
How many times do we do this? The sun rises and sets each day. Glorious colors fill the sky, and we fail to lift our eyes. It's just another day.
Some will protest that our lives would grind to a halt if we beheld the wonder in the natural world, the miraculous in the everyday. I think not. Rather, I believe our lives would be greatly enhanced by a new awareness of all that we fail to notice when we move through life on autopilot. Our senses would be heightened and our hearts attuned to subtleties only perceived by those who choose to look carefully.
It takes no more time to live with an eye for wonder, but it does take desire. And living into our heart's desire infuses our time with intensity and meaning. I thought about the simple acts of nature that rolled into today's welcome summer rain, and gave thanks.
John Donne, 1572-1631, Jacobean metaphysical writer of songs, poems, sermons and translations.