How can something be sacred and ordinary at the same time as the terms seem to be incongruous?
When you think of the word ordinary what comes to mind? Dull? Unpolished? Rough-hewn? Merriam-Webster defines it as “of common quality, rank, or ability.” Using that definition, you may find it odd to think of discovering something sacred in what is seen as ordinary.
After all, if something is sacred, shouldn’t it be regarded with great respect and reverence and as such, be set apart?
Ordinary but yet sacred
We can look at Jesus for an answer to these questions. He was an ordinary man, born to humble human people but yet He was God incarnate. He came to earth in human form, but was still God.
I live what I consider an ordinary life as I do not have a fancy car or live in a mansion. As I write this, I am sitting at a desk that I have had since my high school days. It has its share of dings and chipped paint, but when I think of all the journal entries or school papers I have written and the Bible studies I have done while sitting here, I find a sacredness in its shape and form.
A simple rocking chair that has been in my husband’s family for generations sits in the corner of my living room. I wonder how many babies have been rocked to sleep in that chair. How many lullabies have been sung or prayers whispered while sitting in that humble space?
Practicing the presence of God
We can turn something as simple as the common table prayer “Come Lord Jesus” into something sacred if we truly invite Him to join us as a guest for the meal. As we ask Him to bless our time together, we bring an air of reverence to that time of fellowship.
Brother Lawrence—a 17th century monk—wrote in The Practice of the Presence of God: “That our sanctification did not depend upon changing our works, but in doing that for GOD’s sake, which we commonly do for our own”
He worked in the kitchen of the monastery and found joy and beauty in preparing the meals, in washing the dishes and in serving his fellow monks. Brother Lawrence found sacredness in those mundane tasks of daily living.
I believe when we view something as being sacred, we are creating a bond with the Lord and are inviting Him into that space. By inviting Christ to be a part of our ordinary lives, what we are doing changes from what appears to be mundane to that which is beautiful, from that which is ordinary to the extraordinary, and it even moves it from the temporal realm into sacredness. We create harmony between what may seem dull and unpolished with what we see as sacred and revered.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
What seemingly simple things can you view as precious? Is it possibly a cool breeze wafting in through an open window which makes you think of the breath of God? The aroma of a freshly baked loaf of bread which reminds of God’s daily provision? Or maybe it is in the beauty of a song of praise to the Father?
We have heard it said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Where do you find beauty? Do you find it in the compilation of things and wealth—or are you able to find sacredness in the ordinary?
What do we gain by the accumulation of possessions? In the Gospel of Mark (chapter 8 verse 36), we read: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (English Standard Version) This passage reminds us that by putting our hope in temporal things, we risk losing our soul.
Worshiping wealth and prestige attaches a label to those things as sacred when in reality they are fleeting. We can lose money or power in an instant but a relationship with the Lord is eternal.
Look around you today. Search for beauty and sacredness in what someone else may see as ordinary. If we seek it, we can find the holiness of God in even the most humble of things.