Let us now praise dull routine.* Quotidian tasks. Mundane chores. Repetitious rituals. In the midst of chaos, death, and insecurity they give us something to count on, a little sense of accomplishment when bigger successes elude our grasp. To do the same thing at basically the same time every day or to say some of the same words every Sunday in worship frees us from the anxious burden of fresh decisions every moment, the tyranny of extemporaneity.

But let us also celebrate great surprises which may come in the midst of going about our business, like walking to the mailbox. That’s what I was doing when I saw the duck. Not flying overhead but walking in my front yard. A big, white-crested drake which has so far confounded our efforts to identify his species in our bird books. Pretty soon his hen came out of the flower bed. They hung around long enough for my wife and her dad to see them, then headed for the yard sale down at the end of the cul-de-sac.

God has woven order and routine into the very fabric of creation. Day follows night, which follows day. Seasons turn. The sun rises and sets. Life goes on. But every now and again the ducks show up, the surprises come, and God gives us renewed energy and hope. Both routine and surprise are means of grace. Both are gifts in which to delight, for which to praise the bountiful Creator.

© 2008 by Tom Cheatham

*Apologies to the ancient sage, Sirach 44:1