André Baard

Spying out the Glories of the Commonplace

The wise understand that real riches are to be found in the common.

“The ignorant man marvels at the exceptional; the wise man marvels at the common; the greatest wonder of all is the regularity of nature.”

George D.B. Pepper

“Pastors and poets do many things in common: use words with reverence, get immersed in everyday particulars, spy out the glories of the commonplace, warn of illusions …”

Eugene Petersen

The marvels of the common are hidden, they do not yield their bounty to the casual enquirer or the busy gold digger. The legacy hunter misses the riches under his nose. The talent scout is blind.

In a poetic and ironic sense of justice, on a cosmic scale, God hides the great riches in the small, humble, common and ordinary moments and places and people of everyday life. It’s so Jesus, so upside down Jesus. It’s the beatitudes.

Simplicity and ‘the common’ are cousins of the same family. Simplicity, as a spiritual discipline, values the ordinary, the commonplace, the regular – the moderate. We however, love the exceptional, the extraordinary. Yet Jesus chose ordinary, common fisherman?

Simplicity understands that God’s handiwork is all over the common. We should value what God values and not what the world values. The world venerates the exceptional. People pursue it with angst-fueled-fervour. Whole cultures deify exceptionalism. Mr Pepper’s quote demonstrates a piercing insight, ‘the ignorant man marvels at the exceptional.’

“There are not many noble among you.” The church is the gathering of the common man, the fisherman, the average Joe, the little man and woman. The churches tools are donkey jawbones, dried up bones, common things disregarded by the world. People are amazing. Amazingly complex, works of art. Common people especially! The gospel is preached to the poor, in spirit, poor in exceptionality and in extraordinariness. Hallelujah! It well pleases the Father to give the kingdom to a ‘little flock’.

A sincere hug or the smell of fresh bread, a warm bed, morning tea with a friend, an unexpected smile or an unexpected soft act of kindness that surprises you … small, common, accessible to many, everyday things – packed with glory for the slow observer. The physical world is packed with Yahweh’s signatures. Are we too busy to see? Are things around us a blur? Are people a blur … a means?

As Mr. Petersen profoundly observes, you need to “spy out the glories of the commonplace”. You need to go under cover, you need to listen better than you talk, tread softly and slowly and quietly … become objective, remove filthy filters from your perception equation.

Consider the great artists. Van Gogh painted a vase on table, a man sitting on a chair. Banal, everyday commonness, yet his undoubted genius created paintings that touched the depths of the human heart, he captured in a timeless way, the beauty of the ordinary, the splendour of the common in its common setting. That is glorious. We need the artists to remind us of that, real power is in the powerless. The celebrity is slave of the anonymous fan. Freedom is loving Christ in obscurity or popularity. Most of us live in obscurity, in hiddeness but NOT TO THE LORD. We are his precious pearl, hidden in his side (

When spying out the glories of the commonplace you will observe the miracle and gift of life unfolding before your very eyes. It is not very far from us, it is at hand. We so easily get caught in our anxiety ridden self-bubbles. The New Creation Man doesn’t know this way of living. Let us put on Christ and with Him, His blood stained lenses.

You need to <<< SEE >>> the waddles of five ducks in a row. You may not have all your ducks in a row but you can satisfyingly marvel at the simple beauty of ducks in row waddling through a farm yard. It is cleansing and cathartic.

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Surprisingly, if you slow down enough, to capture such moments of wonder, you may just find your own inward ducks following suite! You may hear the Father’s Voice more audibly and regularly … truly God has hidden glorious treasures of wisdom and understanding in the commonplace. It’s in reach of all, everywhere, if only all were willing to acknowledge the Lord and Christ speaking. Do you hear His voice?

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Romans 1:20

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