C.S. Lewis is reported to have said of this father that he was a man “wed to a dull routine.” Lewis’ brother Warren wrote, “(Our) father had an almost pathological hatred of taking any step which involved a break with the dull routine of his daily existence.”
I have been thinking about dull routines this week because mine has been broken and, while I would not call it a pathological hatred, I don’t like it at all.
It seems so petty in the midst of so much destruction and hardship not far from here, but I am distracted more than I wish I were by the inconvenience – the break in my dull routine – that the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has brought into my daily existence. Our disruption is only in daily routine. We lost power at our house about the time Sandy made landfall 85 miles to the east of us. As of this morning we are still in the dark and it’s getting a little cold. But the church, a mile away, never lost power, so coming to work has been about the same as ever. And the church family is, well, it is family. We have been taken in by some wonderful friends whose lights are bright and water hot.
So why do I feel as if my equilibrium is off just a bit? What’s the problem in my dry, warm and light world? There’s been a break in my dull routine.
Specifically, there has been a break, ever so slight, in my dull morning routine. I like to get up early and have a quick bowl of oatmeal. I’m in the office early, but for my own purposes. I brew a cup of coffee and read the Scriptures assigned by the Daily Office and hear what Oswald Chambers has to say. I send some prayer emails. Then I scan the news of the days, read a column or two and take a glance at ESPN.com.
That done, the day can begin.
And it is hardly that I have not been able to do all that (except that our kind hosts have offered a breakfast much better than a quick bowl of oatmeal). But I have not been able to do it in my order, in my place and at my time. My equilibrium is off just a bit.
I will let someone else decide whether my marriage to this dull routine is pathological or only mildly neurotic. And I will admit that my sense of anomie is really not called for. But may I make a defense of dull routines? Might I even say that God loves a dull routine?
Daily devotionals and morning prayers. Weekly small group Bible Study and Lord’s Day worship every Sunday. Volunteering at the homeless shelter on Saturday mornings or at the food bank on Thursday nights. Fifth Sunday potlucks and a regular tithe. For some of us this is the very problem with the Christian life. It sounds like, maybe it is, a dull routine.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrew Christians was concerned about a break with the dull routine of the Christian life, and wrote to exhort those who had given up on it to return to it:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)
In this morning’s reading from My Utmost for His Highest, Chambers writes, “The Lord does not give me rules, but He makes His standard very clear. If my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without hesitation.” Prayer and Bible study, mission and giving are clearly parts of God’s high standard for our lives. They don’t have to be done in my order, in my place or at my time. But they must become routine; the path we follow, the way we go.
And not dull. There is nothing more exhilarating, nothing that leads to greater adventures and higher joy than the routine of Christian discipleship – following the Jesus way. Lord, forgive me for making it dull.
See you Sunday