Paradise: the Stuff of Daily Life?

Last Saturday we received our first (and only) snowfall of the year.  It started in the evening and continued through the night, and in the morning a thick layer of snow covered the evergreens, sailboat, hammock, and picnic table. 

It transformed the entire landscape. 

I craved experiencing the specialness of it, and so put on my purple rubber boots, doubled up my coat with a cashmere sweater and headed out into the snow. 

The snow was so deep that it seeped into my boot and onto my jeans a few times. 

I traversed the same terrain I've been living on for over twenty years, walking down the street toward a forest nearby.  But it felt starkly original and new.  Cars drove slowly by, and less frequently.  Large snowdrifts piled either side of the road. 

The snow created a paradigm shift from the ordinary and put me into a completely different frame of mind.  This "new world" I was in compelled me to walk a road I hadn't been down in years, and I discovered a trail to the beach I'd never known about before. 

Prosaic Paradise

Jesus tells in Luke 17:21 that “the Kingdom of God is in our midst.”

To me, this passage makes eternity seem like a big let-down.  Hitting the alarm clock in the morning, deciding between cereal or a bagel for breakfast, and proceeding to knock off a litany of tasks (stopping by the post office, shopping for groceries, preparing meals, answering emails, meeting with friends) could hardly be the stuff of Paradise. 

Sipping piña coladas on the beach all day long seems more like it. 

How could Paradise be here, amidst our daily life, which, at best, feels rote and ordinary?  What could He possibly mean? 

Over Christmas several years ago, I'd spent several days hanging out with my sisters; sipping coffee together at Cafe Ladro in downtown Seattle, window shopping at Westlake Mall.  One evening, while visiting in the kitchen, an epiphany came over me and I recognized that this is what eternity would consist of. 

It really is this stuff of daily life: spending quality time with family, sharing meals, helping an elderly neighbor with her groceries, visiting with the people in our life, holding a pet in the evenings.  It's what do every day, minus the anxiety, boredom, strife.

Glimpses of Eternity

Can we deliberately recognize the Kingdom in our midst?  Perhaps this total shift in our perception of daily life--from mundane (and at times heinous!) to idyllic--is a gift that can only be given, as the snowstorm did for me. 

But I wager it's also a practice that can be developed; a skill of recognizing moments of peace, warm connection with other people, and then cherishing and reflecting on them. 

I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.”  Jesus a tells us in John 10:10.  Whenever we encounter fullness of life (and life just happens, doesn't it?  We don't need to make the initiative), we're witnessing the Kingdom.  

A friend came to visit last weekend and we caught up over coffee, walked on the beach, spent the night at a cabin, ate lunch from food carts and explored two nearby casinos.

These ordinary occurrences provide glimpses of the Kingdom. It's something to learn to recognize and savor.  And praise God for the gift of life, peace, community.

What's your take on this passage from Luke?  How do you experience the Kingdom every day?


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