April 5, 2023
A Note from Jon Esala
On January 18 of this year, one of my dreams came true. My wife Meredith gave birth to our son Emmett at just after 9 in the morning. I became a dad.
He’s a little over two months old now, and every morning around 7am I get him out of his bassinet and change his diaper. As I do, he brightly smiles good morning to me. I smile back. We’re both delighted. It’s the ordinary moments like these that I savor.
Both parenting itself and its many component actions such as changing diapers, feeding, and helping a child sleep are ordinary. Literally billions of people in history have been parents. I say this not to diminish parenting at all, for its ordinary nature may be the reason parenting or the lack of it is one of the primary reservoirs of both human joy and human grief.
Of course, there have been some extraordinary, holy moments. It was extraordinary when the doctor placed our crying son on Meredith’s chest for the first time just after he was born. Meredith’s and my eyes met and filled with tears. But the bulk of the job is ordinary — and holy.
Holy in the Ordinary
I believe we find the holy most often in ordinary moments if we pay attention. We encounter God in a conversation with an old friend over coffee; or in savoring a sunset on an ordinary Tuesday evening; or in taking a pause to feel as we witness a profound piece of art; or, as has been my recent experience, as I listen to my son calm breath by breath in my arms as I comfort him.
Some mystics have described God as the ground of all being. I hear that as God is that upon which all beings stand. So of course, if being itself is standing on the holy ground of God, then the holy permeates and enfleshes the ordinary moments of our lives.
Our faith has always acknowledged this. Our two sacraments, baptism and communion, we experience via the ordinary elements of water, bread, and wine (or grape juice). Yes, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are extraordinary events, but the bulk of the Gospels record Jesus being among ordinary people who are on the periphery of an empire. If we take the incarnation seriously, then it means God inhabited the most ordinary of human experiences.
In this holy week, I encourage you to take a moment to see the holy that permeates your every week. We need only pay attention and we will find that God is already present in the most mundane of our tasks.
Many parents have told us that it goes by quick. I have no doubt that’s true. I intend to savor the ordinary moments of being Emmett’s dad, to cherish the smiles and the rocking to sleep and even the diaper changes. I don’t think I can savor the moments when he wakes me up at 5am, but I’ll do my best not to wish them away.
And I’ll do my best to welcome each new phase of his life and let go of the moments that have passed — remembering that there are new holy ordinary moments yet to come.
HUMC Lay Leader
jonathanesala at gmail.com