Thursday, December 08, 2011

A paean to the unexceptional


Behold! My recent spate of unexceptionality:
  • I opened the door at Cosi and gouged out the top of my foot. Bled my way through ordering a salad.
  • I cooked a chicken in a pot in the oven. Pulled out the pot, set it on the stove. Forget pot had been in oven and grabbed handle with my bare hand. Spent rest of the night with an ice pack strapped to my palm.
  • I joined the Festival Singers at church for a special Advent performance. At my audition, the director told me I was breathy but could fix that with a little help from my voice teacher. Note: I've been working on support with my voice teacher for three years.
  • I decided to bake cookies for a work event. Pulled out every conceivable utensil and spread them all over the kitchen. When I was adding flour to the batter, I turned the mixer on too soon and sprayed flour across the floor, counter, and my pants.
  • I went to a Step II class at the gym. Should've known better than to start at level two. Ended up marching in place for a good third of the class, and spent the other two-thirds avoiding eye contact with the other, coordinated attendees. Am ashamed to admit I gloated when one guy fell on the floor.
  • I put my dirty dishes in the fridge.
What's hardest about these moments for me (besides the near-brushes with hospitalization) is how remind-y they are about my shortcomings. Like I need more public examples of my gracelessness, my impatience, my inability to bake the same thing twice.

Worse, these are mild. Sit them next to other situations of the past week -- trying to manage a second person when I haven't figured out managing the first yet, preferring Top Chef to a phone chat with Fella, willfully procrastinating on (or ignoring) my creative writing -- and it makes the Step II debacle look like a raging success.

Where's the Advent in all this, I've asked myself. What could God possibly want with such ineptitude, such measliness?

And then I read this:
The miracle of all miracles is that God loves the lowly ... God is not ashamed of human lowliness, but goes right into the middle of it, chooses someone as an instrument and performs miracles right there, where they are last expected. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
If God's not ashamed, then why am I? If God felt (as the Advent tradition shares) that becoming human is good enough for Him, then why isn't being human good enough for me?

My unexceptionality is itself unexceptional, and thus not worthy of worry, because it's the human condition. And when I forget this, I'll just go to Step to remember.

Prayer #191: Paean to the Unexceptional

How unexceptionable that I am unexceptional.

How commonplace my commonality, how typical my type. No great shakes am I, not even a mediocre wiggle. I came in second place in the second-rate runoff. I am so so-so that no one would bother writing home about me -- just this run-of-the-mill pedestrian they passed, unacknowledged, on the street.

What then about my undistinguished life distinguishes me to You?

In your eyes I am radical poetry masquerading as prose. I appear as routine, but am really revolt. To You it is unexceptionable to say I am anything less than exceptional.

So how are we -- together -- to prove You right?

Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment