We’ve possibly read or heard stories about interstellar travel in which the astronauts live off food paste out of tubes- the brownish staple that somewhat tastes the same whether it’s labelled ‘Chicken’ or ‘Broccoli’. Well, dad’s diet is now about the same, but in bowls rather than tubes. The evening tastes a bit better because of the blend of yoghurt and fruit, with some chapati, but it largely looks the same and tastes, when I sample it, more or less the same. Imagine this everyday for all meals. Dad has been eating it without complaint because it’s so much easier for him without teeth.
And for me it’s the same routine of getting up, picking out the food, cutting and washing it, cooking it, blending it, storing it in containers with instructions on when to have it, and trying to make sure that I can reach classes on time after that. The trick is that it’s the same food for the family as there’s no time to do two sets of cooking, and I have to make sure that it’s fairly tasty, but also with limited spice as that upsets Dad’s stomach.
And like all routines I feel tempted to think that I’d like a break, or that it’s getting tedious. I’m sure teachers feel like that sometimes! I know people bury these thoughts because of the fear of other people’s disapproval.
I found a really cool picture that embodied these thoughts.
But one day, as I was dealing with the feelings involved in this, I remembered one of the professional development sessions I’d had with our faculty. It involved a talk given by Yves Morieux, a French business consultant, who had a very interesting view on the dropping productivity of the times. In his talk Yves Morieux shows the video of a 4 x 100 m relay race, in which, interestingly, it was the slower French team which won the race over the stronger US team. In his talk Yves shares the insight that although the French team had individually slower times than the US team, something ‘mysterious’ happened as the baton was transferred to the final runner. He showed how the runner imparted through her voice and demeanour, something that slowed down her legs but which seemed to cause the last runner to take the baton and make an extraordinary run. He said that the important thing is not how fast we run but how we transfer our ‘batons’ that cause people that we are involved with to ‘run’ faster or better. You can watch the video below.
As I was watching his video I’d had a sense of revelation, of God whispering something important in my ear. It was what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:27 about God using the weak and foolish things of the world to shame that which is strong and wise. And as I asked the question in return, ‘But how do the weak and foolish overcome, and how can they be used with such strength because they lack those very things that are needed to overcome and for God to use them effectively?, the answer came to me of how a transformed life becomes so other-centric that it becomes a perfect vehicle for God to use to serve others, so that whatever we do, we do not for ourselves, but for the building up of others and for God’s glory.
I’ve been thinking of this a lot when I cook, when I make my dad’s mush, when I teach difficult students; when, like today, I leave a badly-needed morning of rest at home to go with a friend to the government children’s hospital to help move the lagging treatment of our watchman’s 9 month old child forward. It makes our watchman’s run easier, and takes some of the burden off him, as he deals with his family’s medical issues and their implications (and that is another story). It makes it easier for me and takes the weight off my shoulders because my friend has sacrificed his morning off to help.
This is the miracle of the mundane.
Each necessary, sacrificial, ‘monotonous/tedious’ thing we do that makes someone else’s life easier and more fruitful, is worth it and invaluable, never to be regretted. How can we do any less when God has loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son for us, so that whoever believes in Him may not be destroyed, but have life forever?