Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Seeing through the Mundane

By David Horn, ThD
Director, The Ockenga Institute

Perhaps poets have this perspective in a way that most of us don’t, poets and novelists. If they have taught us anything through the years, it is that in the smallest, mundane details often overlooked in our lives are revealed the greatest truths. It is in the linnet’s wings of Yeats, and the common spider web of Frost, and the mundane daily trek out into the ocean by Hemingway’s fisherman that we find the largeness of life and death exposed.
Profound truth embedded in the mundane: Perhaps this is why we miss so much of what makes our lives so rich and worth living. We look far out over the distant horizon to understand our lives and, in doing so, we overlook the meaning that is right there in front of us. We so often find ourselves tyrannized by the familiar, allowing the redundancy of time and familiarity of place to rob us daily of what is most important in our lives and souls.
All this crossed my mind the past three days as my colleague and historian, Garth Rosell, and I led a group of individuals from the west coast on a Spiritual Heritage Tour of the north shore of Boston. For those of us who live here in New England, chances are many days we walk unthinkingly over ground that Whitefield may have trod on his way to preaching to thousands upon thousands of his fellow colonialists. Or, without giving it a second thought, we pass by the place where the young D.L. Moody was converted in downtown Boston, a mere stones throw from where the five men fell during the Boston Massacre. Or, could any of us be accused of being more interested in window shopping the stores of Salem without a thought that the modern missionary movement was given birth right there on its shores?: Holy ground masquerading as common, everyday terra firma.
The privilege of leading the tour for these thirty some modern pilgrims involved, of course, the opportunity to point out the significance of places that have long since faded into the woodwork. To multiply our efforts, Dr. Rosell has written a self guided tour book, Exploring New England’s Spiritual Heritage: Seven Daytrips for Contemporary Pilgrims. Hot off the press, the Ockenga Institute has had the privilege of editing and publishing the tour book. For those of you who may be interested in purchasing a copy, please stay tuned to our website for further information in the coming weeks.

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