Last Wednesday morning I read Chapter Four in Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. After basically highlighting every word in “Losing keys: confession and the truth about ourselves” and thinking deep thoughts, I took the final sip of my morning tea and opened my laptop. I am the president of the board for a local ministry and we had a meeting at 9:00 a.m. We were reviewing a recent fundraiser we had hosted and planning next year’s budget based on funds raised and projected income. You know, normal ministry stuff for this time of the year.
I printed off the agenda and a few other documents, closed my laptop, packed my bag and did a quick pass by the printer to pick up the documents. In the afterglow of this lovely chapter, my day was going great. You can see where this is going, right? Somehow I didn’t.
Only one page had printed and the stupid printer greeted me with a cheerful reminder that I was running low on ink. Except, I am not running low on “ink.” I am running low on blue, yellow, and red ink . . . which is why I printed all documents in black and white! Two weeks ago I changed the black ink cartridge and know that my black ink cup floweth over, so where were my documents?!
Reopening my computer, I found the documents I needed to print and then my phone rang! Didn’t people know I was in the midst of a small major crisis? It was the Executive Director of the ministry asking if she had told me where the meeting would be. Externally and calmly, I said she had two weeks before in an email but I appreciated the call. Internally and frantically, I screamed, “Why are you calling me when I am doing battle with the prince of darkness himself in form of my rogue printer?!”
If I hit every green light I could still make it to the meeting on time. On the way, I glanced at my watch and noted the time, 8:52 a.m. At that exact moment, waiting for the light to turn green (Yes, the second light I came to was red, oh the injustice of the entire world!), this chapter crashed like a wave against the shores of my soul.
What had I just read? What was the point of this chapter? The word “redemption” seemed to play hide-and-seek with my memory. For the life of me, I couldn’t recall specifics of this chapter. I had a small chat with myself. I decided that if waking up reminds me I am beloved, and doing something like making the bed reminds me God has invited me into co-creation, glancing at the clock or my watch would become a trigger to remind me of . . . what, I wasn’t sure, but I would review my notes and solidify what I need to learn from this chapter.
Today, one calm morning later I find this gem in the chapter: “For some of us, the idea of repentance can bring to mind a particular emotional experience, or the minor-key songs of an altar call at a revival meeting. But repentance and faith are the constant, daily rhythms of the Christian life, our breathing out and breathing in. In these small moments that reveal my lostness and my brokenness, I need to develop the habit of admitting the truth of who I am—not running to justify myself or minimize my sin. And yet, in my brokenness and lostness, I also need to form the habit of letting God love me, trusting again in his mercy, and receiving again his words of forgiveness and absolution over me.”
Ah, when I look at my watch it will remind me who I am: flawed and loved.
Later Tish wrote, “Over time, through the daily practices of confession and absolution, I learn to look for God in the cracks of my day, to notice what these moments of failure reveal about who I am—my false hopes and false gods. I learn to invite the true God into the reality of my lostness and brokenness, to agree with him about my sin and to hear again his words of blessing, acceptance, and love.”
I have no doubt God is also bringing these words to life in your ordinary days too. I can’t be the only one who read this and did battle with a printer. Right? Friends, don’t leave me hanging! Share in the comments how this slower reading and communally sharing in the comments is both revealing who you are and forming you towards who you can be.
And if you happen to need a document printed in black ink, I may or may not be able to help. Ha! See you in the comments.
P.S. Here’s the reading schedule for Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life:
October 16: Chapters 2-3, October 23: Chapter 4, October 30: Chapters 5-6, November 6: Chapters 7-8, November 13: Chapter 9, November 20: Chapter 10, November 27: Chapter 11