At the beginning of the pandemic, I found myself hypnotized by the news. Maybe as a way of maintaining control, I tried to keep up with each new development that showed the growing number of people affected by the novel coronavirus. Perhaps I felt if I could see a trend in the data, I would be able to predict what was coming. However, this led to anxiety as I realized many things were becoming uncertain.
So I can relate to Tish Harrison Warren's words from the second chapter of her book, Liturgy of the Ordinary: "My typical morning routine was that shortly after waking, I'd grab my smartphone. Like digital caffeine, it would prod my foggy brain into coherence and activity. Before getting out of bed, I'd check my email, scroll through the news, glance at Facebook or Twitter . . . " My time on social media also increased as I then engaged more with humorous posts to lighten the mood. The lines between "work hours" and "rest of life" hours slowly vanished, and I noticed I reached for my phone at every ding as I felt the need to keep up with various tasks. What my brain thought would bring me control and satisfaction actually left me drained, stressed out, and yearning for a different routine.
Since the coronavirus season started, I've been confronted with doing a lot of ordinary things, things I hadn't necessarily thought much about when the bulk of my time was spent outside the home. Warren says, "The kind of spiritual life and disciplines needed to sustain the Christian life are quiet, repetitive, and ordinary. I often want to skip the boring, daily stuff to get to the thrill of the edgy faith. But it's in the dailiness of the Christian faith—the making the bed, the doing the dishes, the praying for our enemies, the reading the Bible, the quiet, the small—that God's transformation takes root and grows."
Making the bed used to be a necessary evil. Depending on my competence on the given day, it would range from "no crease left behind" to "Call Nanny McPhee!" It has since become the central scaffold I can build upon to bring structure to my chaotic day. Making the bed is more than a task now, it is a mindful ceremony. I start out of bed feeling beloved, knowing that my day is blessed even before I begin. As I peel back all the covers, pillows and get down to the last sheet, I feel the freshness of a new day and the opportunity to start things again. As I straighten all the creases with more attention to detail, I feel grateful for the segment or order being carved out in my physical space as well as in my thoughts.
As one whose mind never ceases to wander, this activity channels my random thoughts into streams of reflection that make it much easier to begin the day. I have found that God is present even in this very mundane activity. What is your own version of "making the bed," and how does God meet you in that moment?
This blog is part of a series reflecting on Tish Harrison Warren's book, Liturgy of the Ordinary. Our strange times are the furthest thing from ordinary, but her book explores the transformation that happens in the daily, monotonous rhythms of our lives. As many of us feel stuck doing all of life at home, we are reminded of how all of life is worship.