Tunes rumble around in my head most of the time. Sometimes, they travel down to my fingers, and I find myself playing accompaniment on my steering wheel or the desk top or the kitchen counter. Some melodies float through, and some take up residence for a while. The ones that stick around and won’t go away are called “ear worms.”
I heard something the other day that took me back to my childhood. Remember “Rock-a-bye baby in the treetop, when the wind blows the cradle will rock”? I don’t actually remember my mother singing it to me, but I do remember her rocking my baby brother and singing it sweetly to him. Lullaby . . . just the word itself sounds peaceful and hypnotic.
Well, this lullaby stuck around for a few hours, and I found myself singing it throughout the day, and then it hit me. Do you remember the last couple of lines? “When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all.” Woh! Now that’s a peaceful thought that’ll put a baby right to sleep.
Got me to pondering again. I wonder what I see, and what I hear, and what comes out of my mouth that I have completely normalized, just like mothers for two and a half centuries have normalized “Rock-a-bye, Baby.” If you truly thought about those words, would you really sing them to your beloved child?
As I try to learn to live in the present and recapture some of the wonder about the world that I have normalized, I find myself not wanting to miss truly seeing what is visible or miss truly hearing what is audible to me.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning says it best.
“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees takes off his shoes.”
How many burning bushes have I missed because I thought it was just a shrub? How is it that I only heard an angry, self-centered man when someone else heard a lonely, created-and-beloved-by-God man in deep emotional pain? How is it I only saw an inappropriately-dressed teenage girl when someone else saw a potentially-beautiful young woman in great need of her father’s blessing? How did I miss hearing the sunrise symphony of up to forty imitated calls a mockingbird sings and only fuss with him because he got to the fig tree before I did?
Perhaps I was normalizing and wasn’t really seeing or hearing. Maybe I’ve lost my wonder and still have my shoes on. But I’m weary of missing the evident and the obvious because I’ve normalized things. I don’t want to miss God at work in His creation, be it in the return of the blooms on my lemon tree or the cry of a family member or the joyful laughter of a friend.
So metaphorically speaking, the next time you see me walking around barefooted, don’t normalize it. Refrain from thinking I don’t have clean socks. Just say to yourself, “Maybe she finally realized this is Holy Ground?”
Do you still have your socks on? I’d really like to hear your thoughts about what you have normalized.