Anyone else thinking about making your bed more than normal after reading Chapter 2 in Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren? I am around a 50-50 bedmaker. Oddly, when I’m traveling, I tend to make the bed—more of a “pull up the covers” than a true bed making. I cannot say that I have ever made a bed at the end of the day right before climbing into it. How about you? Are you a bed-making devotee?
When Warren talked about imprinting animals and how her morning routine of looking at her smartphone shortly after waking, I could relate. Because I have an outlet near my bed, I used to plug my phone in to recharge while I slept. However, I found that I, too, was imprinted to my phone. Except it wasn’t only in the morning. Any time I woke up to go to the bathroom or found myself having one of those “I can’t sleep nights,” I would “just briefly check email.”
Who in her right might needs to check email on a regular basis in the middle of the night?
But this is how rituals and habits form us . . . they grow in power. I found myself formed in a direction that was not good for my overall health. Sleep is necessary for the brain and body and soul. So, finding that “just say no” was not going to work, I started recharging my phone in a room that is not on the path to the bathroom.
“Without realizing it, I had slowly built a habit: a steady resistance to and dread of boredom,” Tish Harrison Warren. I would imagine that line jumped out to you too.
While I doubt that my first move of the day will always be making my bed, I too want my first move of the day not to be a consumer, but a co-laborer with God. I have kept up with building the habit of having my first thought of the day be, “I am beloved.” It is not automatic yet, but becoming easier by the day.
I loved this paragraph: “Some Christians seem to think that we push back against the age primarily by believing correctly—by getting the right ideas into our heads or having a biblical worldview. While doctrinal orthodoxy is crucial in the Christian life, for the most part, we are not primarily motivated by our conscious thoughts. Most of what we do is precognitive. We do not usually think about our beliefs or worldview as we brush our teeth, go grocery shopping, and drive our cars. Most of what shapes our life and culture works ‘below the mind’—in our gut, in our loves.”
I think this is why the line about boredom rings true. For many of us, life overseas sounded like a thrill a minute. And don’t get me wrong, there is an element that is more interesting than daily life “back home.” But day to day, life is often filled with much of the same. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, studying the language, or teaching the children, or preparing the lesson, or drinking tea with a local. “The crucible of our formation is in the monotony of our daily routines.”
Which is both encouraging (Whew, I don’t have to hide or be ashamed of how ordinary life becomes on the field.) AND discouraging (What? you mean location doesn’t equal 100% exciting?).
Chapter 3 explored “standing, kneeling, bowing, and living in a body.” I loved this chapter too. I find the way Warren talks about daily life refreshing. “So much of life, unavoidably, is just maintenance.” It is! But somehow this wasn’t the message I picked up along the way, so when large chunks of my time is taken up with maintenance, I can wonder what I’ve done wrong to miss out on the good life.
I love how Warren talks about ours as an “embodied faith” and reframes the conversation this way: “The scandal of misusing our bodies through, for instance, sexual sin is not that God doesn’t want us to enjoy our bodies or our sexuality. Instead, it is that our bodies—sacred objects intended for worship of the living God—can become a place of sacrilege.” Beautiful.
We are now three chapters in. How have you seen this book challenge or inform or redeem your approach to your life on the field? I look forward to chatting 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