I know what you're thinking, and you're right. What the heck does quotidian mean? If you already knew, you are a thoroughly impressive literary type. I just found the word myself. (Thank-you, Dashboard Dictionary). It means “of or occurring every day; daily; ordinary or everyday, esp. when mundane.” I'm glad I found this word (quite by accident I might add), because it perfectly describes the kind of beauty I was struck with last night.
I purchased a bicycle a few weeks ago, a nice one. At least to me it's pretty nice. It's not a Wal-Mart cheapocycle anyway. I don't have a vehicle, so I often depend on our giant Ford E-350 diesel ministry van, affectionately dubbed Van Diesel. Diesel is currently floating around the $5 to $5.20 a gallon mark right now, so I'm trying to curb my use of the van.
I've been enjoying getting around on the old bike. It's only a bit of a pain when I feel like I'm riding through Oklahoma (you know, where the wind goes sweepin' down the plain?). What I like about riding a bike is that it's a nice pace at which to see the world. It's fast enough that it doesn't take an hour to get to the office (only about 15 minutes), and it's slow enough that you can actually experience the environment around you. Sometimes I just plan on getting a little lost, and follow the canals through the orchards, taking the little side roads and paths here and there. Trees all over. Hawks screeching when you approach. The occasional beer bottle.
As I rode around last night I was struck by a different kind of beauty, a variety that's easy to miss. A quotidian beauty, if you will. I took a ride through the suburbs. Did you know that people still do things in their front yards? It was so refreshing just to ride through the neighbourhood, catching glimpses of people's lives. A man peacefully watering his lawn. A woman working in her flower garden. A family sitting by their front door, listening to mariachi music on the radio. I rode by the park, and there were kids playing basketball, a family playing football, and people just smiling and being together. It was truly delightful.
I was recently reminded of a quote from Thomas Merton. As he sat observing people one day, he reflected on how they were all walking around, not knowing that they were “shining like the sun.” I believe we're like bluebirds sometimes. Flying around, completely unaware of how beautiful we are, how fearfully and wonderfully created.
I'm watching that happen even now, as I sit with my laptop in a book store cafe. There's a man across the room sitting with a frail man in a wheel chair. He's flipping through magazines, letting his elderly friend look with him, not saying a word. Guns & Ammo, PC Gamer. I don't think the old fella is all that interested in PC Gamer, but he's here with a friend, and that's beautiful. Guns & Ammo/PC Gamer Guy doesn't know it, but he's sitting there, belly filling out his red, double-XL shirt, shining like the sun.
There are things that are easy to see as beautiful. Mountains and oceans and sunsets. But mountains and oceans and sunsets are of greater pleasure to God when he watches us watch them. Remember, he didn't merely speak people into being as he did the moon and sun. He made us by hand, and kissed us into life. We are his glory, and the whole world is filled with quotidian beauty.