This semester, I am taking a class titled Writing Creative Nonfiction. In the words of my instructor, Dr. Sunyoger, in this genre you “take the ordinary and elevate it to the level of extraordinary.” A mission which draws me to write this genre. As I write, elevating seemingly ordinary things, I am reminded of how God works. As the old adage says, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” He takes ordinary circumstances, people, and objects, and elevates them to an extraordinary level. Just look at today’s saint, St. Joseph of Cupertino.
I love St. Joseph of Cupertino. There’s a great, really cute, old black-and-white movie about him, called “The Reluctant Saint.” St. Joseph was a complete failure in life. He did awful in school, was rejected by the Friars Minor Conventuals, was kicked out of the Capuchins, and when he finally was accepted as an Oblate at a monastery near Cupertino, Joseph was given the job of working in the stable. It is by a sheer miracle and a few incredible acts of God that Joseph ever became a priest.
What did God do with this completely ordinary man, a failure in the eyes of the world? Well, Joseph had a tremendous love for God, a devotion to Mary, and was extremely open to the Holy Spirit-and God blessed him in tremendous, divine ways; For example, He would give Joseph the gifts of ecstasy and levitation.
This whole ordinary-to-extraordinary thing is one of the reasons why I love Batman. I confess I haven’t read the comic books, but I’ve seen the three recent movies and the 1960s Batman, and I have so much admiration for the guy. He didn’t have any special superpowers-no spider bit him, no power to fly or superstrength. Yes, he did have lots of money, but he didn’t let it turn him into an egotistical jerk (cough cough Iron Man cough cough). In the movies I’ve seen, Batman makes mistakes, but overall he strives for truth, justice, and goodness. He goes from being an “ordinary” rich guy to an extraordinary hero. He puts his life and reputation on the line for others, instead of sitting around all day with piles of cool gadgets and cash.
In the BBC show, Doctor Who (I’ve only seen the reboot), the companions of The Doctor have pretty typical lives. Rose Tyler works at a store and lives with her mom. Martha Jones is training to be a doctor. Donna Noble is “just a temp!” as she often cries out. Amy Pond is a kissogram. Rory Williams is a nurse. Clara Oswald is a nanny. All ordinary-ish existences. And what happens to each of them? The Doctor pops up in the TARDIS, and shows them how to live each day in wonder, awe, and excitement. He takes their ordinary lives and transforms them into extraordinary adventures. We don’t have The Doctor popping up in his TARDIS to whisk us away from mundane circumstances. But even better than that, we have a loving, incredible, all-powerful God who invited us each day to step away from an “ordinary life” and travel on an extraordinary adventure of love.
I think many of the saints could testify that when they lived solely for God-on that journey of sacrificial love-they did not groan of boredom throughout their lives. Even something “ordinary” or “everyday” like going to Mass is really an extraordinary event-we celebrate the Sacrifice of Christ and we eat Him, physically taking the eternal, omniscient, amazing God into our bodies! If that’s not an epic adventure, I don’t know what is! And God doesn’t stop there. He continues to work through the people that we meet and the events that happen each day. When you dedicate each day to God, you may or may not see crazy things happen, but in the context of the whole Body of Christ, insane things might be going on. Your prayers right now, which may not seem to be doing cool things, might be saving lives and/or souls on another continent! Or in another time! Seriously, living for God is so incredibly epic and amazing!
You may not fly or go into ecstasy, run around in a black mask and cape, or zoom through time and space in a blue box, but, you are being called by God Himself to do a special mission for Him, each and every day. A mission to love sacrificially without counting the cost. A mission to courageously rise above an ordinary existence. A mission to take a plunge into the unknown with faith and trust in hand. A mission to be extraordinary. Have fun!