In this week’s chapter of the Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Warren talks about the quotidian tasks that make up our every day. When we fight back against our daily decline — be it vanity, or health, or just habit much of our daily life is spent just attempting to reverse the entropy of existence. She starts with the act of brushing teeth. How that simple task is so menial and far removed from the call of the spirit.
So, as a thought exercise I tried to think of the most ‘consumed by the spirit’ character I could envision from the scriptures. It has to be John the Baptist, right? I mean that is the one guy you look at who spent every ounce of energy finding his calling. No wasted motion on picking out the right shirt for the day. Not going to blow precious minutes cooking up any lamb. If it doesn’t have the economy of getting right down to the river for the day, then I can’t envision John the Baptist suffering any distractions from his mission. No — I doubt he brushed his teeth.
But, as Tish Warren says, that isn’t the model we are given. The model we are given is a fully unbounded divinity that is fully bounded by the flesh, and the dandruff, and the stubble, and the earwax, and last night’s stew stuck between the molars. I know that I will never have the passion of John the Baptist just as I know that I will always brush my teeth in the morning. Maybe that is okay — maybe I don’t have to try to be something other than a regular person living inside an increasingly failing body who is just trying to do the best with what I have. To live as I have been asked to live inside this unique vessel. To go on trying to do the right thing as long as I recognize and acknowledge that gift of this fleshy blessing — even when I am doing something as mundane as brushing my teeth.