This week at work I’ve been training a couple of new hires. I work at a research lab as a biologist and have been teaching them to maintain cells in culture, plan experiments, and learn some other lab skills. It’s been interesting to see their perspective – everything is so new, so amazing. They’re enthralled with the equipment, the flasks we grow cells in, how we make the media. They handle everything with careful awe, almost reverence. And they’re so excited when they’ve made their first batch of media, placed their first order. It’s endearing really, to see their enthusiasm for the little things. And it makes me a bit sad because I remember when I was like that too, before such things became too routine for me to notice anymore. And I wonder why we’re like that. Why do things near to us become common instead of more dear? The Bible passages I’ve been reading recently speak of this. God has been calling the Israelite nation back to Him, asking why they turn from Him to serve lifeless gods and ambitions, why do they ignore Him and disregard His gifts. He tells His people that their land, the bountiful crops, the healthy animals, the forests, food, their fine clothes, and their gold jewelry are all His precious gifts. God calls all these things His precious gifts. God values the “common” things of this world, and He especially gives them to us as signs of His love. And just like the Israelites I so often brush them aside and forget their truth worth in my own self-absorbed agenda.
I started reading Wind in the Willows last week as part of my knit-a-long with Unique Sheep. We’re knitting a shawl based on the book. I wasn’t for sure what I’d find in the book – turns out it spends a lot of time extolling the virtues of the “common” things of life. The richness, the sweetness of simple things fills every page – spending summer days enjoying the laughter of water, friends around a fire eating supper together, taking long walks in the woods – all these small blessings are portrayed as what gives meaning to life, weight to the soul. This is always my litmus test for books. If a book gives honor and sacredness to these basic pleasures then I know I can trust it with my heart. Truly good books are those that take you to another world to teach you how to live in your own. They give you a sense of purpose; an ability to see the world as sacred instead of mundane. And when you leave its company, you see your own world as more beautiful, more blessed. Any ordinary book can make you dream of a life you wished you had, but only the most special books can make you appreciate the life you have now as an extraordinary gift. Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad have been showing me again how full life is with the precious gifts God gives.
(The picture above is of clue 1 of the mystery knit-a-long – it has a four-petal flower shape as the center of the shawl. Must get busy and start clue 2!)
Blessings to you,