“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day, I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.”—Mary Jean Irion, Yes, World: A Mosaic of Meditation.
My normal days, lately: Three of us having colds, despite being sick just a couple weeks ago; telling Ace to climb into the van so we won’t be late and him instead sticking his head into a puddle and then complaining piteously because his shirt got wet; the van being trashed despite my just having cleaned it out (no, really, I actually did!); the laundry pile towering to new and precarious heights; my summer to-do list largely ignored; increasing frustration at constant interruptions; misplacing (multiple) things.
Sometimes when my kids are complaining too much I try to reframe their attitude by making them tell five good things about their day. They will tick off a quick list on their fingers: “Riding bikes, floating boats at the park, um …, paper airplanes, pizza, and …” (here they may glance around the room for inspiration) “that lamp.” And their complaining will cease—perhaps more out of knowledge that if they don’t, they will have to list another five things than out of newly ignited gratitude. (But they stop complaining, so who am I to question their motives?)
And sometimes when my head whirls with too many grievances, Irion’s essay creeps into my consciousness, a reminder that there is not going to be a rare and perfect tomorrow and that someday I may long for the return of today. The lens adjusts to a new focus.
Normal days, lately: Catching up with an out-of-state friend, going out for dessert, touring a friend’s new home, painting with Sonny and Ace, three uninterrupted hours of editing in the coffee shop (complete with cinnamon cardamom tea), picking blueberries, VBS, chatting with a good friend during our kids’ swimming lessons, enjoying the library, watching (from a safe distance) spectacular water fights among my kids and husband, Sonny insisting on listening to Hymns Triumphant as he goes to sleep, Ace teaching me about dinosaurs, blooming cosmos, visiting grandparents.
The friend who posted Irion’s quotation on her blog passed away earlier this year.
One of my former housemates died this past weekend in a car accident.
They should have had decades of normal days in their future. Their families, friends, and students want, more than all the world, for the return of normal days inhabited by their wife, daughter, mother, sister, aunt, friend, teacher, counselor, neighbor.
Why does it too often take someone else’s tragedy to remind me to be aware that my normal days are treasure? Sticky, crumb-covered, noisy treasures, but treasures nonetheless.
p.s. Okay, everyone, tell me five good things about today.