Song For a New Year: Ordinary Day

I love Christmas, but I generally let New Year's slide.  In fact, after Rachel and I got married on New Year's Eve 2005, we were both secretly happy for a ready excuse to never watch the ball drop again.

But for those for whom New Year's provides an opportunity for stepping back and examining one's life, then I think it can provide a real virtue.  How do I want to change?  What do I want to see done this year?  Where do I want to be a year from now?  In that spirit, I offer a song and the thoughts behind it.

If a life is pictured as a line, with a series of peaks and troughs, then the vast majority of it is spent in the grand in-between time, the daily grind.

We look back at a year for it's cardinal events, like a Christmas letter: we got married, we graduated, we retired, we bought our first house, our child was baptized.  And yet most of the year was none of those things, and I would argue that most of the significance of the year was none of those things.  It was instead the time and relationships that are so ordinary they are almost invisible.  However, their invisibility does not mean that their power is any less.  It is just unseen.

And I think this is good news, because I believe that God is always at work in these small moments.  It is here that we are changed, that we become who we are, and our presence in the world is most felt.

In Kenya, a new visitor would often stagger at the idea of our daily life, but the biggest surprise for me was just how wonderfully ordinary it really was, in the end.

And this reminder couldn't be more timely for us here, laboring with inch-by-inch progress in French, another trip to the supermarché, another conversation with my kids, another walk to church.

And so, if your new year is providing you with perspective, think on the vital but invisible ordinary days.

I wrote this song in Kenya to try and highlight this idea.  I wrote it about an ordinary day at our home with a hike up the nearby Mount Motigo, realizing that what was ordinary for us would sound exotic to others, but that was the whole point.  I owe the central idea to Walt Wangerin's The Book of the Dun Cow.

(download here)

you and I today
red dirt underneath our shoes
walking in the afternoon

stop awhile and stay
on the edge of a concrete porch
drinks in hand and laughter in our mouths

ordinary day
all that keeps the darkness still away
come what may, come what may

you and I tonight
sitting on the front porch
a touch of silver light

tinge of charcoal in the air
music from the girls' school
rolling up the hill to echo off our chairs

ordinary love
all that keeps the darkness still undone
as it ever was, as it ever was

you and I right here
baskets in the tea fields
equator sun comes near

they wave as we pass by
Maggie shakes a wrist and all
the mothers of the roundhouse village smile

ordinary grace
all the keeps the darkness still at bay
come what may, come what may

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