In this disruptive season, I have often heard the phrase, “new normal” tossed about. This challenges me to ask, “What defines normal?” and “What exactly has changed?”
As I consider what standard defines normal, I have several options. I can define normal from my own perspective, taking measurement of my circumstances and adjusting to fit the normal of my surroundings. I can define normal socially by looking at those around me and adjusting to fit the normal of the group to which I belong. I could also define normal based on an ideal, making adjustments in myself to move closer to a perception of rightness. All of these seem to be default modes of defining normal in our lives. From these perspectives, the disruptions of our circumstances and communities over the past seven months do indeed call for a new normal.
However, if instead I define normal according to the love of God. Normal has not changed. A new normal or standard is not required. What has changed is the way in which we encounter and recognize the love of God in our daily lives. We do not need a “new normal,” instead we need to cultivate new ways of recognizing the grace of the unchanging normal of the love of God.
The daily examen is a time honored way of noticing and honing our awareness of the presence of God. Yet, in this time of disruption, a different perspective may be helpful.
This week in our Connect - Cultivate - Create group, we have been reflecting on “Dusk.” As I think of the hospitality and community of evenings on the front porch or gathered around a fire, I wonder if an evening practice of hospitality to our day may help us to recognize our encounters with grace.
Perhaps at dusk we might prayerfully welcome our day to join us on the porch or over a cup of coffee.
1. We might recall with our day the grace we encountered in people...
in the encouraging words, the smile we saw in eyes even when the rest of the face was covered by a mask, the simple acts of kindness and love.
2. We might notice the way we encountered grace in the beauty of Creation...
in the turning of the leaves, the warmth of the sun, the flowers.
3. We might become aware of the quiet encounters with grace in our times of prayer...
in the unexpected and unexplained moment of peace during a hectic day, the word of Scripture that comes to mind, the deep knowing of love in silence.
As we reflect on our encounters of grace, we develop new habits of recognizing and welcoming grace. We encounter the unchanging normal in new ways.