I have a friend who loves roller coasters. In fact, he'll get on one at a theme park, ride it, then get in line to ride again 5 times in a row! If I did that, I'd lose my lunch and have to find someone to hold my hand and guide me around the park all day because of vertigo. Can I get a witness?!
Sometimes life itself is a rollercoaster, don't you think? We ride to the top one day, and drop to the depths the next. The pace is frenetic, the turns and twists unnerving, and sometimes all we really want to do is get off and experience some calm and stability; some sense of normal.
I wrote some thoughts about this a few years ago and ran across them last week. I quizzed myself on the application of my own advice. I was disappointed with my performance. I'd missed a lot of the beauty of what I call "normal faith for normal days." After all, that's where most of life is lived.
We celebrated my grandson's 6th birthday last month. Needless to say his entrance onto the planet has had an immense impact on my life. My priorities have changed. Spending time with him has superseded a lot of previous "essential" stuff," teaching me more about what really does and doesn't matter.
The "good life" isn't about the stress of acquiring and managing stuff, it's about sharing life with people we love; it's about being still, reflecting, dreaming, smiling back at someone who smiles at you, giving someone the purity of your attention, listening empathetically, hugging, sharing, clapping and cheering when anyone takes a step towards their potential, even a small one. I think, among other things, that grandparenting teaches us those things. But life in general can teach them too, if we're perceptive enough, and accepting enough, to learn them.
What captivates you these days? That's always a question worth asking. You know what I've learned? Transition is always on the horizon. The next season may bring pain or disappointment, or perhaps a resurrection of deep inner joy...or maybe just a long, stable, less-demanding season of..."normal."
"Normal" is good. Don't try so hard to avoid it. "Normal" gives the best hugs, contains the best memories and like all those little things, all those moments we take for granted, gives us roots, makes us strong and deep and full and whole.
We recently celebrated the 4th of July. One thing I love about the 4th is the fireworks...but alas, on the 5th, they're gone. Life is much the same way...spectacular at times, bursting with energy and potential... yet, like fireworks, the spectacular fades with all its enchantment, only to give way again to normal.
Everyone seems to be chasing something they don't really need these days, in their view, something better than normal. Such pursuits ultimately leave us discontented; they strip away our ability to appreciate the very things that warm our hearts and sail us into safer and better harbors...where "normal" awaits with life-giving strength for all of tomorrow's journeys.
Here's some advice: Learn to enjoy the absence of life's "fireworks." Learn to lean into "normal." There's a myriad of treasures to be discovered there... like the warmth you feel inside when a grandchild, before drifting off to sleep, says, "I love you, G-Pa, (or Gram)." Or the peace that wells up within when a tired little one, barely six months old, wraps his/her fragile hand around your index finger, looks into your eyes, and smiles. Does anything compare to the power of that? I think not.
Seasons come and go, but they always give way to what's next. Learn to embrace that. Every season has value, to be sure, but the real prize, in my opinion, is a place called "normal." There you'll discover the best of what life has to give.
So, friend, if you've read this far, please accept my prayer for you: "May God give you normal faith for normal days." I pray it confidently...because it is life that is truly life. Embrace it. Explore it enthusiastically; you'll find it to be vastly superior to the roller coaster life, I promise.