By Curtis K. Shelburne
I was not particularly looking for wisdom when a friend and I walked into a Thai food restaurant recently; I was just looking for food and trying to make sense out of a menu filled with genuine Thai cuisine. What I ended up eating was excellent, but I’m still wondering about one menu item that just sounded interesting.
I still wonder what it is. A staple item in the Thai diet? A delicacy? The kind of thing a fellow just develops a taste for and says to his wife one evening after work, “Ya know, I could really go for a big bowl of larb right now! Man, that would hit the spot!”
I still don’t know what it is.
But I do think I found a bit of wisdom.
On the wall of the restaurant.
Well, to be completely truthful, it was on the wall of the restroom of the restaurant, a place where I surely wasn’t expecting to find any wisdom.
It was a quotation at the bottom of a Norman Rockwell print. The words were Rockwell’s words, which is what gave them even deeper meaning. Rockwell, arguably America’s most beloved artist, a man who succeeded in capturing on canvas the warm heart and the living soul of this nation, wrote this: “Common-places never become tiresome. It is we who become tired when we cease to be curious and appreciative. We find that it is not a new scene which is needed, but a new viewpoint.”
He is so right! Yes, there are times to take a trip, see new things, meet new people. But what most of us need far more is simply to open up our eyes to that which is beautiful and wonderful, joy-filled and life-giving, all around us every ordinary day in lots of ordinary places. Because, you see, there aren’t any simply “ordinary” days or “ordinary” places. And you never met an “ordinary” person. Our extraordinary God never created anything or anyone who was just “ordinary.”
The more I think about it, the more I realize that “commonplaces” are what God uses to make our lives uncommonly rich and interesting, and those who spurn them are poor no matter what their income.
The way your wife strokes your hand during a movie.
The wry smile of your son when you tell him that being taller than you is disrespectful.
Early morning fog or a blanket of new snow creating a completely new world just outside your front door.
A clear, calm, crisp winter night and the smell of an oak fire warming the heart of a home.
The crackle of that fire in the hearth, its warmth on your back, and a book in your hand.
The taste of chocolate.
The easy laughter and good-natured joking of good friends.
Your favorite chair or your oldest pair of slippers.
Taking a snooze in the sun and realizing your dog is right about snoozes in the sun.
“Commonplaces never become tiresome.” Thank God for them!