I see it around me: a cycle, a system, an organized plan. The seasons are predictable; there are four of them where I live, and they come and go on schedule, according to the calendar. Just recently was the vernal equinox, the first day of spring, and as if on cue, birds (which were already around), increased in number and flurry of activity and noise. I was a few hours south just last week, and more signs of spring were already visible, with budding trees.
The world and its creatures continue on with their daily routines. Creatures (some of which appear to have the easiest and laziest lives, haha) – even have some sort of schedule of their own, their own routine, an internal clock. Butterflies and birds know when to migrate. Bears know when to hibernate and when to wake up. Ants are industriously busy, as well as bees. All of these creatures have a routine they follow. Some animals must sleep most of the day, like lions, and other animals, like pandas, eat 12-16 hours a day.
Trees and flowers and other living, growing things follow a rather predictable routine, too. Trees live according to their season, producing fruit at an appointed time, or losing leaves, while others remain evergreen during the long winter months.
Routine is more than a daily schedule… I see it as a whole life, a pattern of calm and storm, of joy and pain, of abundance and loneliness. The routine is a wave of one of these, and then a wave of the other. It comes and goes, like the tide, coming in to shore. Some waves are like tsunamis; they come in overwhelming power and volume; often those are waves of pain and heartache. Just like a tsunami can leave a beach dry and empty, it can feel like we’ve had the air suctioned out of our lungs and left high and dry, threatening our joy, draining our hope. How often are we overwhelmed by joy and happiness? At times we are, but I think we are more likely to feel overcome by the waves of the harder seasons of life coming through and knocking us off our feet.
Routine is anything but. It is the matter of life, even when life seems far from a calm normal, from a routine, from stillness. Life is not routine; it is always changing, in flux, replete with the highs and lows of daily living, of seasons in our own lives, that come with relationships, circumstances, and simply living in an imperfect and sinful world. Storms and pain are part of the routine, but there are seasons of joy as well. To be honest, I have to take the joyful seasons by faith, when I am walking in long, dry, lonely seasons. Also, many of us can relate to the feeling of the mundane, the daily routine of life getting to us. Yet– how can life be routine with all of the wonders that surround us? Yet, it does and can feel that way, when the pains of life crowd in, like unwanted, encroaching weeds.
What really is routine in this life? Even the routine cycles of seasons of plants and creatures are anything but; it is wondrous, beautiful, captivating, surprising… it is anything but the usual, the mundane. The routine cycle of growth and death in living things is itself a wonder to behold.
Amidst the seasons of change, of life, one constant remains: God’s love, God’s faithfulness… which is itself a wonder, a humbling joy, a peace, a hope, and brings meaning and purpose to the routine. Without it, I’m not sure I’d see much purpose or hope in it all… why go on? We’d all just live life as selfishly as possible and without much care or thought to anything or anyone but ourselves (indeed, the callousness of the world can sting like this… indeed some do live like this)… so thankful, then, for that hope, for the routine nature of God’s love, which is anything but routine.
This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is: Routine.