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  • Writer's picturejamesbriankerr

Peaceable Man Files Issue #13: Giving Glory to the Ordinary

Random musings on my gypsy existence at my cabin in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania and wherever else life takes me.

I went out early this Sunday morning to walk the dogs, and what a glorious morning it was.

The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon in a sky that was as perfectly blue as a robin’s egg. Low humidity, a gentle breeze blowing, the air scented with the wild rose blossoming in the woods. My kind of summer’s day.

For the first time in a long while, I was not in pain as I walked. This new left hip of mine is truly amazing. I can do things I haven’t been able to do for years, at least not without hurting. I’m back to working out in the morning, back to taking bike rides, back to being able to sit cross-legged on the floor while playing a board game. Yes, the hip gets sore when I push myself and I must remind myself that it’s only been five weeks since surgery and I still I have some ways to go, but already I’m feeling that this new hip will change my life for the better.

I was thinking on this as I walked, feeling thankful for the good work of the surgeon and the medical team, thankful as well that I have the resources to have a life-changing surgery like this, when suddenly I became aware of all the other things I had to be grateful for.

Just to be alive on this beautiful summer morning, not just able to walk but to see, to smell, to feel, to think. It’s all a miracle. I mean, think about it—what are the odds that any one of us is alive today to experience what we’re experiencing at this moment? The chances that things should have lined up exactly the way they have to put us in this particular body, in this particular place and time, are so infinitesimal as to make the odds of winning the lottery seem like a sure thing.

Yet, here we are.

Think, as well, of all the things that could have happened to keep us from being here today. The risks we’ve skirted, the adversities we’ve overcome in our decades on this earth. For example, if I hadn’t gone in for that colonoscopy when I was fifty-two, the one that I thought was routine because I had no symptoms of anything being amiss, then the gastroenterologist would not have found the overgrown, stage 3a cancerous polyp that was just starting to metastasize. But I did go, and he did find it, and because of that and the surgery and chemo that followed, here I am, eight years later, healthy and enjoying life.

Yes, it’s all a miracle. Or maybe miracle isn’t the right word to use because a miracle implies the intercessions of a divine being that has deemed, for whatever reason, to violate the normal course of things to grant one person a cure, reprieve, or some other blessing that he or she has not granted to someone else. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

But whatever you call it, the fact that we’re here today defies the odds. We may not be here tomorrow, next year, or even five minutes from now, but we’re here now, part of the vital, pulsing heartbeat of life, and that’s worth taking note of and celebrating.

So that’s what I did this morning when I was out on my walk. I lifted my arms to the sky and gave glory that I was alive.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Take nothing for granted—that’s my philosophy.

Even when things aren’t going our way—especially when things aren’t going our way—it’s worth taking a moment to glory in it all.

Job not going well?

Give glory that you have a job and an employer who values you enough to pay you for it.

Don’t have a job?

Give glory that you have valuable skills and that an employer will notice them soon.

Lost a loved one?

Give glory that you had that person in your life and that he or she found you special enough to love and spend time with you.

Every relationship, every conversation, every sunrise and sunset, every step, every breath, every flower and tree, every bird and blade of grass. The miracle is not in the extraordinary but in the ordinary.

Give glory to it all. Why is it worth doing this? Because when we’re actively looking for and celebrating the amazingness of the ordinary, then every moment becomes a celebration. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “to one whose elastic and vigorous thoughts keep pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning.”

That’s my philosophy, at least, and it seems to be serving me alright. It’s a philosophy that has taken me from a place, twenty years ago, where I was miserable and anxious most of the time, to where I am peaceful and content nearly all the time.

Call me pollyannish, but I can’t help but think that if we had more people giving glory to all that’s good in their lives, instead of shouting from the rooftops about perceived grievances, the world would be a much less angry, violent place.

May your week be filled with the riches of the present moment. Give glory!

If any of this resonates with you, please feel free to pass it onto others and invite them to subscribe for Peaceable Man updates.

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