Every once in a while, during my life as a wife and a mom and a very normal person, I am reminded that life is seldom one thing or the other but instead it is a great mixture of the both and the and. Splendor mysteriously mixes with the ordinary in very unexpected moments.
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are my gym days. I get up at an unreasonable time to get some alone time and a physical outlet. I have learned that if I don’t get there before the kids wake up, it won’t happen. That and the fact that my body likes morning more than evening contribute to some decent consistency on my part.
My family lives very close to San Diego State University (where this picture was taken), and a few years ago they put in a pretty nice gym. We get a better rate than the students because my husband is the king of good deals, so we have kept our membership even though I didn’t even go near the gym for years after our first two boys were born. But ever since I got priced out of my friend’s gym a couple of years ago, I have been at the Aztec Rec Center on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Since the gym is so close (and parking costs money), I walk. On my way home, I frequently see certain people who are crazy enough to be up at the same time as me. One of them is a sweet, smallish older gentleman with grey hair who walks on the other side of the street coming to the gym as I am going. We pass each other at the same point regularly. We wave. If I pass him closer to my house than the gym, he teases me that I am early. If I pass him closer to the gym than my house, I tease him that I am late.
I have decided that there are some people in this world who wear their spirit on their sleeve. You can see their spirit as they walk by you, even if no one says a word. Gym guy is one of those people. And, luckily for me, this is a man with a very sweet and wonderful spirit. My own spirit lifts when I see him. Even in the dark days of depression that passed last year.
Today we passed early, and the last few times I have seen him he has been in the gym before I even left. He has been running early. Quite early. So today I inquired as I stopped to chat.
He speaks with an accent, which I wish I could place or reproduce, but I can say it is strong and Slavic sounding. It makes him all the more endearing. So after I asked the reason for his change of schedule, he told me:
My wife, she is in the hospital for one year and a half. She fell and cracked her head open, and she cannot feed herself. I come early so I can go to hospital and feed her.
As I am clearly touched, he goes on:
When I see her, the smile on her face makes it all worth it.
What a wonderful husband you are, I tell him. No, no, he says. She is the one who is wonderful. She is fighting the good fight.
I choke the tears away. Blessed by this man and his love for his wife and his wife’s love for him, I walk away even more lifted. A year and a half … that’s about as long as I have been seeing him on this walk. I never would have known he was carrying such a heavy thing.
My son’s karate instructor has him memorizing a quote from Charles Swindoll about attitude. Seeing this man and hearing his story this morning brings it all home. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% what I do with it.
I am sure this man has his days. I am sure he was not happy to have his wife go to into the hospital a year and a half ago. I am sure he is not happy to have her still there. And yet, I am so inspired. I want to love like that. Sure, I want to be loved like that too, but even more, I want to love like that.
So here I was, going about my ordinary day walking home from the gym, and I am inspired. I am inspired by an ordinary man performing an ordinary act of feeding his wife, and yet in the process it all becomes so beautifully extraordinary. I am encouraged that my ordinary life is mixed with splendor as well, and hopefully it is this kind of splendor that isn’t a life interrupting moment when ordinary is suspended and extraordinary takes over, but where ordinary and splendor are together, commingled, intertwined, and making each all the more beautiful.
Where have you found unexpected inspiration lately?