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Giving Thanks for the Mundane

November 21st, 2007 | 2 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

Tomorrow, we will give thanks for the many blessings in our lives by indulging ourselves with food, family and football.

And in doing so, we will probably neglect some of the more remarkable facts of our lives, if only because they are so remarkable, we barely notice them.

Presumably, the sun will rise tomorrow—but when it does, we shall not stop to worship it, as the pagans of old may have done. Most of us shall hardly even notice it. It is a fact so important that our entire existence depends upon it, yet so normal and mundane that we barely give it a nod before moving on.

This, though, is understandable. Our sense of astonishment and wonder, our sense of thanksgiving, is so often misguided.

We are sometimes astonished, for instance, at the overwhelming number of people who get divorced. It is far more remarkable, however, that so many people remain married. Given the difficulties the arrangement imposes upon us, it is astounding that anyone would choose to marry, or that, once married, they would continue in it.

Marriage is a monstrous decision, but it is a mundane reality—and we have no taste or appreciation for the mundane. We would rather have the spontaneous eruptions of young lovers instead of the ordinary details of marriage.

But the mundane realities are good realities. Evil is never mundane and regular—it is always a disruption. When the man discovers he is sick, he recognizes the value and normalcy of health. We rarely notice the fact that we have two legs until one of them goes bad.

It is, admittedly, Chesterton’s line of thought. But of all the modern thinkers, none understood the importance of giving thanks—and of giving thanks for the mundane—than Gilbert. Or, at least, none has taught the lesson so well. In his masterpiece Orthodoxy, he writes:

[Children] always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.”

This Thanksgiving Day, revive your sense of wonder and astonishment at the mundane realities of life, for the miracle of the sun’s rising is no less a miracle because it happens every day.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.