Kimberly Lynch discovers the beauty of ordinary moments during the bleak winter season.
Every year January appears as a soft cloud that slowly grows and eventually swallows up the cheery lights of Christmas. During the first week of the new year, a few houses on the street will pack up their lights until next season. By the next week the street is visibly darker, until about the third week when the neighbors scoff at the lights that still have not yet been taken down. Christmas never ends on a set date ... it fades into the gray, damp winter air, leaving behind leafless trees, the barren ground, and an overall dullness that matches the skies.
Folks are back in their routines, some grumbling about the end of the festivities, some a little relieved to return to the safe predictability of their calendars.
Mothers understand the relief of returning to routine: children are recovering from month-long sugar highs, late nights, and abundant excitement over new gifts ... midwinter brings a calm as we turn down the brass instrumentals on Pandora, clear out the cluttered living room, and return to backpacks and pencils.
And yet, the mundane seems to lack so much fulfillment. The everyday duties, the repetitive and tedious tasks ... it’s paradoxically a breath of fresh air that soon becomes stale by the boredom and discontent.
One recent Sunday the mundane succeeded in dampening my mood, as I sat in a church pew trying to listen to the homily. As a mom of six children, there are many days when I barely make it through the homily still paying attention, as little ones need redirection, bathroom breaks, and I myself need so much more sleep than what I actually get.
I glanced down at my 4-year-old who was gratefully sound asleep on my shoulder, and in that moment I marveled at his soft cheeks and long lashes, the most perfect peace on his relaxed face. His fine blond strands of hair glistened in the light coming through the stained-glass windows. This was a moment every parent wants to bottle up and never let go, a reason why parents look nostalgically through albums and cry at weddings. This was a fleeting moment where my little boy still loved a snuggle on mom’s lap, his innocence still so evident. An age where his budding independence is launching him into the world of “big boy” but where his physical size is still able to be embraced and carried.
As I closed my eyes and silently soaked it all in, my mood softened at this conclusion: the joy is in the mundane, and the beauty of life found in these sweet little moments. Annual celebrations and great feasts and celebratory music are exciting, yes, but the average everyday is where so much life happens! It would be a pity to long for the excitement without recognizing the significance of the present.
I sat in peaceful thought on the car ride home, observing the delicate beauty of the seasonal landscape. The trees were shivering in the cold breeze, and the dull brown earth rested in its slumber. As I stepped out of the car, I paused before wrestling the baby from his car seat buckles, gazing at the chilly, pale blue sky and longing for warmer sunshine. I didn’t want to stand too long outside ... but as I gazed past the neighbor’s house and yard, I realize that this is the only season of the year when I have a view of the mountains.
Life may seem dormant, but its brilliance never truly fades.
About the Author
Kimberly is a Catholic convert, writer, wife, and mother to six awesome children. She blogs at PassingThroughMountains.com, where she encourages her readers to recognize sparks of joy despite the arduous climb up life’s inevitable mountains. She enjoys running in the morning, a strong cup of coffee, reading a good book with her feet up, and hiking in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where she and her husband raise their brood.