Simple Joys

Pastoral Messages | May 13, 2021

Months ago, my brother and I were talking about the things we were most excited to do on the other side of this pandemic. I remember talking about travels to exotic places and dreaming of long elaborate meals at a crowded table of friends. I imagined those experiences with bells and whistles, extravagant and big, demonstrating in the boldest of ways a return to life. But in these last weeks, as I and so many others are getting vaccinated and we’re getting back to doing the things of “normal” life, it is the much simpler things that bring me joy. 

At that first dinner back with my mom and her husband, it wasn’t the delicious meal around her beautifully set table that brought me to tears. Those tears of joy and relief came instead while I was standing next to my mom in the kitchen, drying dishes. With my grandma’s fancy spoons still dripping in my hands, I turned and hugged my mom with fierce gratitude for her, for this life, for the gift of doing something ordinary in her company. That mundane act of drying dishes, which we’ve done together hundreds of times, felt like a miracle.  

A similar thing happened at church on Easter morning. It was a glorious morning, with the brightest sun shining on the faces of beloved people as we sang our “alleluias.” But the moment that felt most holy and hopeful happened as a pair of St. Paul’s regular ushers greeted me, wearing name tags with bulletins in their hands, their familiar eyes wrinkled with smiles. I saw them and my breath caught at the wonder and the goodness of seeing them. 

I remember laughing at myself as I walked away from our beloved ushers. In all the beauty of the morning, how was it that those hands holding bulletins were the harbinger of the holy? And why is it that dish towels made evident the depth of the love God gave me in my Mom? 

And yet, as you know from your own lives, this is how God shows up. God’s love is found not always in the fancy and the exceptional, but in the daily, simple, and the human. God loves us so much that God doesn’t hold back just for the glorious and special stuff, like heirloom silverware kept stored away. God breaks into our ordinary days and in the simplest of familiar, common and daily stuff, reminds us of our connectedness to one another, and to God. 

When the psalmist declares, “this is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it,” she doesn’t just mean the special days. Every day is a day that God has made – and when we open ourselves up to seeing it, even the most mundane things are a chance for us to rejoice, yet again in this life we are given. 

As we step back into these new days, I hope we can all keep our eyes open to the ways God shows up in quiet, quotidian ways. And in this, we can deepen our connections with one another, grow in our confidence in God’s presence, and rejoice with gratitude for this day that God has made.

-Sara Olson-Smith, associate pastor

6 Comments on “Simple Joys”

  • Jane Strittmater

    May 18, 2021 at 10:07 am

    This is awesome and loved the family connection – it means so much to me and our family to be with family and now that most of us are vaccinated we can feel safer being together. Thank you for writing the simple joys.

  • Susan Grove

    May 15, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    Sara, I love this. The recent family hugs have just been simple joy to the max. I have to say the gender thing got me again! I have always thought of the psalmist as “he.” (That’s one of my favorite verses to delight in on my daily walk.)

  • Anne Budde

    May 14, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Thank you Sara!

  • Sheila Mesick

    May 13, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    These “still, small voice” experiences hold us together, brings a healing balm to our soul.

  • Audrey Keeney

    May 13, 2021 at 4:47 pm

    This is so good. I found that same thing true. My children. had not been in our home since Christmas 2019 and they came for the day to celebrate Mothers Day with us. It was so good to just sit and talk and hug. We had taken this for granted before. God is good.

  • Christa Orfitelli

    May 13, 2021 at 2:38 pm

    Yes! Love this reflection. The simple pleasures for sure. (And thanks for teaching me a new word: quotidian:).

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