"Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
— Mary Oliver
I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. Full disclosure? I couldn't even spell it correctly the first time I typed that out. If I were in a spelling bee or if my life depended on it, maybe. But not here. Not in this space. Not in this mundane and ordinary moment. I have always been the creative type. Doodling on college ruled notebooks while caught up in my own dreamy ideas and simultaneously listening to my teachers. A creative type with the need to be doing something with my hands. So I am the one most surprised by the fact that in the months ahead, my husband and I will unveil a new business venture that is a dream once conceived in our hearts, and now about to be birthed in our reality. The ability to dream and imagine creates room for what we once didn't see as possible. It's an exciting time needless to say.
There is lots of prep work taking place. Budget planning and maximizing purchases made with numbers we have to work with. Listening to podcasts from experts in the field. Researching and visiting other businesses in the area. Taking mental notes of things we like and what we will do differently. The fun part of designing the space. Moving pictures from here because they look better over there and should we add a fig tree in that corner? We definitely should. Lots of green everywhere.
I love these moments of planning and brainstorming ideas and doing the legwork to bring to fruition this dream of ours. But. There is also the middle and the mundane. There is still the waking up on a Wednesday morning in Ohio to a sky covered with gray and pouring rain. It was warm enough today to melt the snow, so there's that. There is still the going to work at my current job (the job before my dream job) where the elderly patients will ask how the baby is doing even though she is almost three (sidenote: time does fly and I'll forever be pregnant in their mind even though we've celebrated two birthdays and are halfway to our third. The pregnancy felt equally long. I get it.) There is still for my husband the process of coaching clients through choosing paint colors and taking over the wallpaper removal they thought they could handle themselves. There is still laundry (heaps and heaps) and pet care and cars that break down and all of the magnificent mundane on the way to this dream of ours.
So how do we live out this quote, Mary Oliver? How do we find the magnificent in the mundane?
There is a story in Genesis 28 about a guy named Jacob who is on a journey. On this journey, he comes to a point where the sun has gone down and I imagine by this point, he was probably exhausted from traveling by foot. With no memory foam pillow on which to lay his head, he uses a stone to rest on. I don't know about you, but I've been exhausted enough to do this before. Exhausted to the point where it was more painful to keep my eyes open than to lay down on a concrete slab and give way to sleep. I've seen people curled up in hard plastic seats in airport terminals with delayed flights. In the holding cells of county jails where you are detained for hours and sometimes, days. In waiting rooms of sterile hospitals. Hard places. The place between where you are and where you long to be. The in-between place of where you've left and the place you are headed to. And it's in this very place that God appears to him in a dream and when Jacob awakens, he says this:
"Surely the Lord was in this place, and I was not aware of it."
Surely. Is it possible that finding the magnificent in the mundane is linked directly to our awareness that God is in our midst? Even if you feel unaware and can't trace His presence or the reason for the delay.
Even when the road feels long and winding and you feel as though you've made a few wrong turns along the way. Even though the kids are on repeat in the backseat asking if we are there yet. Even though the everyday tasks of normal life feel like drudgery. Even though what you are currently seeing in your reality doesn't at all look like the dream God placed in your heart.
Take heart. Be still. Breathe deep. God is closer than you think. The One who gave you the dream will bring it to pass and not a moment too soon or too late.
I look at my daughter as she is nestled in bed asleep, her hands tucked under her cheek in a picturesque moment. There is nowhere else in the world I'd rather be, I think to myself. I look at my son as he comes down the stairs with his pants pulled too high and a silly hat that looks like Paddington bear as he tries to make us laugh. And it works. I wake up still feeling sleepy and open my blinds in the morning to allow daylight to enter the house on this still gray sky in Ohio. I don't want to miss it. Any of it.
I don't want to miss what is right in front of me while looking and longing for what is ahead. So I'll pay attention. I'll hold these dreams of mine loosely for the sake of holding firmly to where I actually am.
In order to fully live life, you have to pay attention. And when you really pay attention with all of your heart and your senses, you'll be astonished. There is so much magnificent in the mundane.