Part of my biography could read, “Dave Claassen and his wife divide their time between living in Florida and Mexico.” It sounds like the author bio on the back of a book. It sounds so ideal, life in Florida and Mexico!
I often write about our experiences in both places. I’m aware that I make it all sound pretty interesting and attractive most of the time. Describing how I found a tortoise in a palm tree forest in Florida or observed a farmer working his field with a horse-drawn plow in rural Mexico might make the reader wish he or she were living the moment with me. Life is good for Dave Claassen, one could conclude. Yes, it is, but it’s far from perfect, and you need to know that!
It’s easy to envy the life someone else lives. I plead guilty to occasionally, but unintentionally, tempting someone to envy the life I write about. This can happen because I try to write that which is ultimately uplifting; even a trouble or tragedy I describe is most likely going to have a positive application at the end of the short inspirational essay. Then, too, I try my best to describe ordinary things and events in an interesting and engaging way so you want to read what I write. You also need to know that I don’t share everything! I respect the privacy of those I love most and don’t share all of the hurts and troubles. Diann and I often pray earnestly for our parents, children, and grandchildren over issues that can easily bring us to tears and fill us with fears. Yes, we have our ongoing burdens too!
What I’ve found is that the chronicling of events in my life with a spiritual application helps me focus on the positive in my life and appreciate my life more! When I write about washing dishes – describing the putting of rushing water and soap together to make hundreds of sudsy mini-rainbows in the bubbles – I’m just describing in a hopefully refreshing way something ordinary most of us do every day, wash dishes. Then I add an appropriate quote by a monk from centuries ago who worked in the monastery kitchen and wrote, “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.” (Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God). If you and I both recall what I wrote the next time we do dishes we’ll come to see the dishwater to be holy water, for it is just another place where God becomes real to us.
My goal in my writing isn’t for you to envy my life. I want us both (writer and reader) to do what I believe God wants us to do and that is to embrace each day, as ordinary or problematic as it might be, and live it well, for God’s glory! This means that even dishwater is holy water into which we place our hands!
“And they [angelic beings in heaven called seraphim] were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.‘” (Isaiah 6:3)