Mundane (and Magical)


There are dishes literally overflowing from my sink. My bag from traveling last weekend is not only still packed, it’s still in my entryway. I’ve stopped packing lunches and instead just have a loaf of bread and some peanut butter and jelly already at school.

It’s Thursday in November and plodding seems like a good word for what’s happening in the world. We’re moving forwards, maybe, but it’s taking extra effort to pick up our feet. Some days it’s more like shuffling.

We’ve hit a painful cold snap this week and losing our Daylight Savings sunlight makes me feel sleepy around 5:30. It’s hard to leave the covers in the morning when it’s cold and dark out there. Yesterday, I managed to avoid the snooze button which meant I had time to do my hair. It wasn’t until the third student told me I looked beautiful that I realized just how long it had been since I’d done anything but throw it into a ponytail on the way out the door.

One foot in front of the other, y’all. Surely I’m not alone in this?

This morning, I lost the battle against snooze and rocked the ponytail again (and a sweet kinder boy still told me, “I like your hair, Miss H. It’s yellow.”). I glanced at the weather and decided to go with the full winter coat today, grabbed my bag and coffee, tightened my coat and marched out to the car, hurrying to get inside and warm again.

It wasn’t until I had unloaded my belongings in the passenger seat, started the car and turned up the heat that I noticed it- there was ice on my windshield.

Fabulous, I thought. I don’t even have a scraper, this is a new car. I quickly turned on the defroster and sat back to wait.

I tried my wipers and realized it wasn’t ice, but snow. And it was still, gently, falling.

This better not mess up my commute.

I drove uneventfully to work, wishing most of the way that I’d thought to stick some gloves in this new car or in my purse.

My first class of the day is a group of children who have lived in the US for less than a year. They are all from Central America, and they are smart and funny and heartbreaking and sweet. I was finishing up the powerpoint we were going to go through today and making sure I had the books and papers we would need when the first little boy walked in the door, with winter coat, hat, and gloves all three sizes too big.

We start the day with the same questions every day. I could ask them in my sleep. I think at this point, the children could pretty well answer them in their sleep (but that’s more or less the point). For English learners, sometimes mundane routine is the simplest way to learn.

“Good morning, hon. How are you?”

“I am happy. How are you?”

“I’m sleepy. What day is it?”

“It is Thursday. Tomorrow will be Friday!”

“What is the weather?”

“It is very cold. And… windy. And cloudy.”

“Anything else?”


“Is it snowing?”

“No, no, no.”

He’s already wandering across the room to see how his pumpkin plant is doing in the cold classroom.

“Wait, it was snowing before. Did it stop?”


I open the door to a blast of wind and a few rogue flakes. It’s all but stopped, but on our small wooden pathway to the classroom door, there are some tiny balls of ice clinging on.

“Look here, buddy. This is snow. Have you ever seen snow before?”

He is wide eyed under the too-big hat. “Snow? No, nunca lo he visto antes. Es cierto, es nieve?”

The girls arrive a moment later and he proudly and excitedly explains to them that it has snowed, that this is snow, that it’s different than it seems in the movies, colder, slippery.

They wanted to take a picture with their faces pressed against the frozen ground, barely any evidence of the snow save the joy and surprise radiating from their tiny bodies.

It was magical. I couldn’t even ignore the magic, with millions of snowflakes in my history, with my cynical snow-hating heart. All day they talked about it, the snow they could barely see. They had finally seen it, this thing they had only heard about, and it was different and more wonderful than they could have ever known.


The Bible talks about having  a heart like a child’s, of seeing the world through the eyes of a child. I think that might mean looking for the magic instead of plodding through the mundane. 

Perhaps my cynical, doubtful heart needs to look for the next beautiful magic instead of the next argument. 

I don’t always believe there’s beauty in faith or in the church, but I don’t think I will ever find it if I don’t look.


Advent is coming, friends. This year, I think I’ll be looking for and writing about the magic and the mystery and the beauty. Because isn’t that what the incarnation is all about? They had finally seen it, this thing they had only heard about, and it was different and more wonderful than they could have ever known.

Christmas always comes right when you need it. God has not abandoned His creation. He has come to live in it, to redeem it. It is, even now, being made new, and we get to see some of the magic and mystery and wonder of that every day.

The magical mundane of the manger.


Photo by beketchai, via flickr.

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  1. I loved this story. It’s amazing when a child reminds us of the simple things in life that we take for granted.

  2. Thom Thornton · · Reply

    after a week with a collaberation of preachers, two funerals, and my own theological dronings, that’s the most “God-like” story I’ve heard. Praying to get out of the mundate and maybe, maybe, see the magic once again.

    1. We still need to get together sometime- I think I dropped the ball on that one.

    1. Thanks, Karissa! One of my favorite things about teaching ESL in Rutherford County is that I get to teach small groups of newcomers.

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