Seek out the spark that can illuminate an ordinary day
7th January 2023

We rarely take notice of the ordinary day in its minutes and seconds and its invisible undergirding of the hours and weeks and years of our lives.

Each day arrives as an unscripted page, a tabula rasa. It is a day like no other before or after it, unique and irreplaceable in time’s almanac. It may be named a Wednesday or Sunday and there will be some part of it that is unalterable, with the threads of duty or expectation already woven into it.

Pope John Paul II, pictured during a 1995 visit to Australia, wrote in an early poem: “I knew the light that lingered in ordinary things/Like a spark sheltered under the skin of our days.”Credit:Steve Christo

But it will be the gold thread of joy or the silver thread of wonder added to the darn of the daily that will lift it beyond the quotidian.

Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) wrote in one of his early poems: I knew the light that lingered in ordinary things/Like a spark sheltered under the skin of our days.

We must seek the spark that illuminates the ordinary, that gets under our skin so we inhabit our days fully and well.

It is the constancy of moon and stars and the lullaby lap of the ocean and the morning canticle of birds in trees. It is summer holiday sandcastles tumbling to the tide as tots and teenagers enjoy the blessing of our beaches. It is the reliable pleasure of reading a new book by a favourite author or spending time in the rabble-babble of big family gatherings when everyone is talking over each other because there is so much news to share. It is old friends and new ones and the brimming of adventures unexpected.

Recently, I have read To Kill a Mockingbird again and noticed the narrator Scout Finch talking about the routine contentment of her young life growing up in Alabama. What a lovely phrase – routine contentment. I think that is what I must look for in my daily routine, being alert to the small joys strung together like pearls, pearls singled out in the grit and grind of the ordinary.

I’m with Philip Larkin, who wrote that we spend too much of our lives with time torn off unused. This does not mean I will be an Energiser Bunny in 2023, but it does mean that I will use my time thoughtfully this year. I will, if not exactly seize the day, at least contour it into a shape that promises effort of some sort for some good.

The Psalmist reminds us: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (118:24)

Let us rejoice and be glad of the gift of all our days as we resolve to make the most of this newly-minted year and find the contentment that gives us balance in a busy world.

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