Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: just an idea (page 1 of 2)

Ordinary Magic

When I was growing up, our friend Erica had one of those big backyard trampolines. Because her parents and my parents were beyond  BFF, we spent many hours trying to conquer the butt-knees-back-up and playing add-a-trick.  It was magical.

It wasn’t until late elementary that my dad decided to get us a trampoline for our own backyard. We loved it. This set of springs got plenty of wear. Then we reached a point when the only time we played Popcorn was when our friends were over. We didn’t dislike it nor were we bored with it; the trampoline simply lost its magic. It became ordinary.

Watching my own children jump with glee the other day, I reflected on how frequently this happens. We allow the magic to dust off when we make it commonplace, which I believe to be the real reason God tells us to “be holy.”

Much of the first testament gives instruction about how to keep certain things separate: men from women, wheat from beans, cotton from polyester.* Often we read this with a cultural lens that one of those things is less than the other. Not good enough. Even, dangerous. We approach the idea of holiness as if the ordinary makes the holy dirty; hence “unclean” (literally, “polluted” in the Hebrew).

I see this change through the words of Jesus. He tells people, often through parable, to let the weeds grow among the wheat. He says God will sort the sheep and goats. This makes sense, coming from a ridiculously terrible farmer who believes good things can grow in hard places.

The common, the seemingly less-than, can do nothing to change the nature of the holy. Like a life-long islander, we get used to the scenery and forget its magic. The mountains aren’t less majestic or the waves less soothing. We’ve simply made the holy, ordinary.

The good news: we can reverse this. Actually, when you read many of God’s commands and you find this great reversal at work.

Three meals a day, every day, often made from the same thing? The people could complain of another bowl of lentils but God says to bless them. Give thanks for the rain and the sunshine, miracles outside of your own control, required to make them grow. Did you know that the most devout Jews pray a toilet prayer (my term, not theirs), thanking God that all systems work like they’re supposed to? If ever there was a place to mix the ordinary and the divine, the bathroom is a good starting point.

My cousin works in the bridal industry. Every day, she sees young women on the cusp of what they imagine to be the most amazing day of their lives. Each and every one of them are special and unique; yet she can see 5 of them in a day. The 300 dresses hang on the rack as inventory. They’re numbered.

But when a bride walks out of the dressing room, sometimes with happy tears, it’s no longer a pile of satin or lace – it’s the dress. At least, to this bride, it is. Laura’s job is no longer to take measurements and find a matching veil; it’s to honor the magic amid one of her most ordinary days.

And this is the work for most of us. Teachers may tie shoes or plan lessons on long division or recount the events of the first world war. Ordinary, everyday stuff. Or, they’re inspiring children to ask questions, to follow their curiosity and find solutions to problems. Inspiration. Literally: to breathe into. (You know who did that first, don’t you? That first, holy work of making things come to life? Oh, yes, I just compared teachers to Genesis 1.)

A dentist or a doctor might feel as if they’re diagnosing or prescribing, but to the person who finally feels relief, they’re doing the holy work of healing.

We tend to make the magical into the monotonous. It’s just another day, another school year, another student/customer/patient/client. But we can seek the divine spark in the most ordinary of all things. By the nature of creation, God’s fingerprints cling to every day, person and place. The work of holiness is to see it and honor it as such.

 

 

*I’m being funny. I know the cotton/poly blend was not an ancient stumbling block. But something was, because Deuteronomy 22:11 exists.

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Where’s Terri?

Terri saved me more than once already. We’ve been in our new/old town for just over a month, but the number of times I’ve left her office full of gratitude is greater than the number of times I’ve went to Walmart. (I think both Terri and I can all consider this an all-around success.)

The most recent occasion for my visit to Terri’s corner office was my upcoming mortgage payment. These new houses – well, they need paid for. Which required me knowing the amount of my monthly payment, along with finding a way to get money into and out of the checking account that would pay it. And if we could make all this happen in a way that repeated itself without so much effort, double word score. So I slumped into Terri’s office to admit I had indeed lost the passwords to make my online banking come alive AND I couldn’t find the payment books the bank had just sent. (Banking is hard. And so is moving.)

And then, she fixed it. Zim, zam, zoom, everything worked. I signed my name. She picked up the phone. Magically, all things banking-related worked again. How do real people do this? I wondered aloud.

How do real adults keep passwords and mortgages and school registrations and apply to see new doctors and salvage hearing aids left in the rain and read aloud to their children and potty train? And some of them – they even WORK. ALL YEAR ‘ROUND. How do they do this and not loose their ever-loving minds? 

It turns out that not just banking is hard. Or moving. Adulting, my friends, is terrible. Terrible! I’m not sure why this is a thing. Who decided we all needed to “become responsible” and “take care of ourselves” and “become productive members of society”? I’d like to talk to that person. I’d like to hire them to keep my calendar straight. And also, potty train the baby. This is going terribly as well.

Sometimes I look around and try to find the Terri’s of the rest of my life. Who around here is going to make this easier for me? People like Terri have spoiled me. Now I’m put off by people who aren’t trying to make my life easier. Like the woman at our former doctor’s office who wouldn’t let me email a form to the office but instead insisted I mail the hard copy with a stamp. (Add “buying stamps” to the list of hard things adults do. This task derails me every time.) And don’t tell me the office “doesn’t use email.” They do all their doctoring on ipads and laptops.

And where is The Terri at the school? If I suddenly go missing – after checking the laundry room – it would be best to look under the pile of 37 pink and green forms that the school requires. Per child. I could be buried alive. One person was so kind to point out that this is going to be my August activity for the next 14 years of my life. Times four. Can we please get a Terri in this office who will make things work electronically, so that all 62 people who need my cell phone number “in case of emergency” can simply pull it off the database?

I need a Terri everywhere. Someone who makes the day work just an eensy bit better. People who love their job, no matter what it is, enough – or so much – that it makes life better for others: these are my people. Like last week: I drove through Starbucks. The barista cheered for me when I made my selection. This. This needs to happen more. Cheers and helpfulness. Not forms and stamps.

Go, my friends. Be a Terri. Make some magic happen for someone. Make life a little better. Cheer, help and encourage.

(And just so you know that I practice what I preach, I just woke up my husband so HE could go be an adult. I didn’t even wake him with loud noises or a smack on the leg. We can do this, friends! We can be helpful to one another! And kind! It’s not as hard as we might think!)

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What I’m really looking for in a grocery store

Dear Kroger Marketplace, kroger

I hear you’re coming. I’ve heard it for the totality of the 3+ years I’ve lived here, but things seem to be moving along. Now, I’m unfamiliar with the benefits of such bigger-than-big grocery stores, other than the fact that I can buy new furniture with my dog food. To tell you the truth, I don’t really want to buy those things together.

I’m a Meijer shopper through and through. It wasn’t necessarily because of specific incidents at your store. I can buy “last chance” bell peppers, 3-4 of them for just over a buck. The organics line, specifically in regards to the spaghetti sauce, is outstanding. The Mperks coupons generally fit my profile (though they’re notorious for not actually discounting my bill if I’m not careful. **Looking at you, Meijer**). The gas is cheap and 30 seconds from my house. All in all, I have no reason to switch.

I’m probably not your target demographic anyway, but I should be. I spend more money on my groceries than my mortgage. I’m trying to raise my little people to eat and enjoy healthy foods. I largely structure my week around meals. So, pretending you’re not aiming for extreme couponers (which I’m not), then let’s draw a picture of what it would take to get me to switch. It’s really just one thing, actually, with a few accessories.

A large space for my kids to run, jump, climb and slide.

That’s it. Seriously. If you have free wifi and a decent cup of coffee available nearby, I may never leave. You don’t even have to staff the place – however, I hear Giant Eagle does, wink wink – I just want to give someone other than McDonalds my $1.09 while I let my kids burn a bit of energy while I get a smidge of work done on the computer. I’ll even pay $1.50. Or $2 for the Starbucks. Whatever, man.

The concept is quite simple – and genius, really. I would stop by for an hour one morning to let the little ones go down the slide while I finish a bit of work and check my email and spend too much money on overpriced coffee. THEN I would remember that I’m out of chicken broth (which is a lie, because I make mine, but let’s go with that) for dinner. I gather my children, and while in the organics section I decide my little angels deserve a special little treat for behaving so well while in public. A box of granola bars, a bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap and a bag of grapes because they’re on sale! and I’m headed out the door. Oh, and let’s not forget the endcaps of beer. We are raising several young children at one time and bedtime tends to invoke a small amount of imbibing.

Don’t you see how much money you will take from me? And you know what? I don’t care! Because I’d rather give you and extra $10 each week in unnecessary but usable organic groceries than my $1.09 that McDonald’s swipes on an irregular basis.

So, there you have it. Sales flourish. Shoppers switch. And if you instituted a you-scan-it method so I can bag while I shop? Sweet love of all the groceries, I might kiss your store manager. Grocery shopping could become a sweet oasis, nearly like that of IKEA. (Which, by the way, watches my children play while I get a free cup of coffee and enjoy free WIFI. That’s where I would buy furniture.)

Show me to the petitition to make this happen. I’d be glad to call and talk to your supervisor. We all know I’m right.

Regards,

Michele

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