Sometimes life is rather plain, ordinary, characterised by keeping the status quo.
We wish it were exciting, full of adventure, high-energy, high-octane, a brilliant grand endeavour lived in full colour, Ultra HD, with cinema sound and Lucasfilm FX.
Even the most awesome lives lived can’t seem to measure up to what we wish for ourselves.
- We wish for beauty, but find our cheekbones are too high, our nose too long, or our hair fast thinning.
- We wish for adventure but, instead, find our lives an endless replay of sleeping, working, taking the kids to sports, dance or parties.
- We wish for meaning, but end up spending 30 years in an average, repetitious job, stuck without promotion or further prospects beyond our cubicle in an office of 100 such spaces on the 13th floor.
In a library containing books of all genres, nations and ages, the story of our life seems to have fallen off the shelf, perhaps into the recycle bin, or (worse) still in the temperamental circuits of computer memory in a file called ‘Untitled.’
Patricia MacLachlan penned a story in 1985 called Sarah Plain and Tall about a woman who finds her way from East Coast Maine to the hard life of frontier America. She had answered a newspaper ad to be the wife of a farmer who wants nothing more from her than someone to do the cooking, cleaning and chores and be a mother to his two children. While not initially interested in love, having loved and lost once already, the farmer slides (inevitably–a classic novelist’s plot) into a romance that exceeds Sarah’s wildest imaginings.
While there is nothing unique about this story, it struck a chord with its audience so strongly that it developed into a five-book series (‘Saga’ is the bookseller’s term). Winning many awards, and achieving the ultimate reward of a movie deal, this story aims straight at the heart of all those who see themselves as, also, ‘plain and tall’–ordinary, unadorned and simple individuals whose own dreams were most often those of a handsome stranger finding in them that spark of delight and inner beauty.
But this is just a story. Or is this just a story?
It was written with a classic plot line that is known to sell books. Why? Because we all have a deep longing to be loved, valued and hear someone say, “You are mine.”
There is no elixir of love, no life-changing mantra, no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
But, as taught by minimalists for centuries, there is more to be found in less.
This is our story.
It’s untitled. It’s raw. It’s evolving, growing, developing all the time.
Sometimes–no, make that much of the time–we need to disconnect from the world of celebrity headlines, news broadcasts, and the mindless stimulation of ads to become aware of the beauty that is found in a simple story, an unadorned life, in detachment from the need to have a label, or a title, on our Self.
We must learn, again, how to embrace the ordinary and be exactly who we are knowing that, despite how we look, feel or how our own story is playing out today, we are loved, valued and welcomed by a God who promises to be with us–us plain, ordinary, average people–always.