I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Sharon Landis’s reflection on being powerfully ordinary:
I write constantly. I cannot stop writing as writing helps me process my life: helps me express my emotions rather than repress, helps me listen to my heart, express my faith, be gentle with my sensitives, and ask the hard questions. I sometimes dialogue with God through writing, after I’ve listened deeply. I write about everything, even about my dog, garden, grandchildren. Through expressive writing, I assist my soul in catching up to where the rest of me resides. Often, my body and mind move much faster than my inner being, my heart and soul. Solitude, silence and writing help me live more mindfully, provide the spaciousness my heart needs to remain open in this tumultuous, ever-changing world.
Lately, I’m playing with this silly title as a year-long journal intention: Thoughts from an Ordinary Prophet. I looked up the word prophet. None of the definitions are my intention. However, I could possibly see myself as a spokesperson for a cause or movement if the cause wants to increase our ability to love, laugh, notice and savor.
Of course, I need plenty of grace to embrace those four, especially when I’m in a bad mood and want to see the glass half empty. On the other hand, I’m fascinated by how everything I encounter in life can be my teacher, even crappy stuff like peevishness and picking up dog piles in my yard. Speaking of my dog, she could be a prophet since she teaches me how to be present, wag my tail more rather than growl, and be enticed by a good scent or trail through the woods!
If I am open to learning from everyone and everything, and share what I learn with tail wagging enthusiasm, I could be an ordinary oracle, a seer of the common and normal. In a world besotted with fame, grandeur and celebrities, someone in love with simplicity and normalcy could be refreshing.
I love the prayer: God help me want to be ordinary. It forces my idealism out of hiding so I can see all sides, both the shining and the shadow. I love the prayer because it shows me how to embrace my inability to change the world now. It means choosing the path less traveled, without attachment to accomplishments like having written a famous book or penning a highly quoted poem. It means standing by a line of trees, feeling sad they are going to be cut down, but sadder still that I took them for granted, never really noticing them before knowing of their fate.
The trees ask me: How much do I really honor and notice? How often do I sleep walk through life? How much to I dream of extraordinary while missing the beautifully ordinary?
These questions remind me of a poem I wrote when my heart was exquisitely aware of both my ability to love and my inadequacy:
Wish I could scoop handfuls of glistening dew
and scatter the sparkles inside
or drape garlands of stars over doorways.
Wish I could capture delicious scents,
to perfume poverty and sadness with
jasmine, fresh rain, a crisp autumn day.
Wish I could spin the soulful trust of a puppy,
the quiet splendor of a misty morning,
and weave them into a beautiful tapestry.
Alas, all I have are my modest words,
my little soul, my limited heart
my inadequate bursts of gratitude.
I pray my offering expands as you receive
and becomes the wideness of the sky,
the freedom of a playful breeze…
the beat of a thousand hearts united
in a song of devotion,
souls soaked in grace, feasting on Love.
Perhaps enjoying a meaningful life really isn’t a popularity contest. It could be that my ordinary self is extraordinary in ways I may not fully know. I’m sure the heart speaks in whispers while the ego and the world talk in shouts. Sometimes, when I read Marianne Williamson’s words, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure,” it trips me up and makes me want to change the world again. Then I have to sit down and pray for the desire to be powerfully ordinary.
I always come back to believing who I am and doing what I love is enough. Perhaps sitting on a bench loving this fabulous earth, being awed by clouds and birds, honoring the life of the dead cat on the roadside, loving my dog, my family, myself, loving others, passing the wonder of stars and moon on to my grandchildren, laughing with the breeze, writing a blog or poetry is actually extra ordinary, and sharing my love of life is prophet-like. If so, then we’re all prophets. If we realized our power, the power of loving, laughing, noticing and savoring, the world would surely change, one ordinary prophet at a time.
Sharon Clymer Landis is a writer, poet, blogger (at Color My Soul) and spiritual director known for her simplicity, gentle wisdom, compassion and love of stories. Sharon believes writing and telling our stories brings healing, humor and moves humanity toward greater compassion and wholeness. She lives on multi-generational farm in Lititz, Pennsylvania, with her husband and family.