My mom and I talk every day.
Aside from being mother and daughter, we’re close friends. It’s just what we do. In the morning after I have my coffee I call her and we have a chat. Some days it’s short: a brief discussion of what’s going on and what waits in the day ahead. Some day it’s a longer discussion that touches on everything imaginable. We talk anywhere from five minutes to an hour and a half. Just depends.
I remember being vaguely surprised, when I first moved away from home, that not all parents and children did this. Some don’t, as it turns out! And that’s just fine too. But I enjoy our little routine. It’s become ingrained in both our lives to the point that, when something disrupts it, it feels unusual. Even startling.
A series of cascading events made my mom’s schedule impossible; she told me yesterday that she wouldn’t call me until later the next day, and maybe even not at all. This sometimes happens for one or both of us; it’s no problem. I told her that and went on about my day.
This morning, though, while I sat at the computer trying to brainstorm a blog post, she called from her car in a parking lot. “Hey!” I said. “You’re early. I didn’t think I’d hear from you until later.”
“I had some time,” she said, “and I missed talking to you this morning! So I wanted to go ahead and call.”
It was a short call, but it made me smile. I can’t say how much it delighted me to know she missed our little routine. It reminded me that the calls matter: that, even though they’ve been woven into the fabric of our daily life, they’re important. I’m important to her, and she is important to me.
When something becomes “normal,” we tend to stop being delighted by it. Or we forget to be delighted by it. I thought about this recently when my husband and I went into the store, and the wonderful elderly man that works near the exit whistled at us and then yelled out loud, “Look at these two! Still in love!”
We were holding hands. It’s so natural to us at this point, twelve years on, that we sometimes forget we’re even doing it. But when he noticed, we realized what we were doing – and grinned, and squeezed each other’s hands, and felt a little like teenagers.
The kiss goodbye at the door. The daily phone call. The congregant who always pats you on the back and says hello. The door held open by a neighbor. The thank you note that arrives after every single gift. The “I love you.” The person who says “yeah, I’ll pray” the minute you call them, no matter where they are or what they’re doing. The box of surplus cucumbers and zucchini left on your doorstep.
These things matter. They are the heartbeat of love in daily life. They are all the little ways that we serve each other, and – when they happen a lot, when we start to expect them, when they come from the people we know and see every day – we start to expect them. We take them for granted. We normalize them.
It’s good to pause and put them back in their context. Take a look at your life and at your habits and rhythms and routines, at all the small innumerable and consistent ways in which people say I love you or you matter. See them for how special they are, and see that as an act of love they are all little gems reflecting back the great Love that created the world and redeemed it. Savor those things! Don’t let them go by as something small or expected or normal.
Love is not “normal.” It is supernatural, it is godly, it is holy, it is strong. It comes from God. So let it serve, when you encounter it, as a reminder of God’s presence. Recognize it for what it really is.