Do It Again, or Exulting in Monotony

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

This is one of my favorite quotes. On the surface, it speaks to God’s never-ending vitality, creativity, and energy. We take so much for granted, and if we could learn to approach the “routine things” in life with the wonder that God does, I believe it would drastically change our attitudes.

But there’s another truth operating here; another dynamic that is just as vital to life. The morning prayer of the daily office is based on Psalm 51, which reads,

Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. Create in my a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit with me. Case me not away from your presence, and take not your holy Spirit from me. Give me the joy of your saving help again, and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit…

The language of “repetition”, present in the creation of the Chesterton quote above, is present in the forgiveness described in Psalm 51. In the same way that God never tires of telling the sun to rise, He never tires of forgiveness. In fact, I suspect that we more quickly grow tired of asking for forgiveness than He tires of giving it. 

To tell the truth, it’s difficult for me to pray these prayers sometimes. I don’t like being reminded that I can’t ultimately fix myself; and that I stand in a constant need of forgiveness.

In other words, it can be a humbling experience.

But that’s almost the point, I think: in a very real sense, following Jesus begins—and ends—with humility. Do I enjoy being reminded every morning that I need a clean heart? (And that I need to ask someone else for it?) Frankly, no. There will always be a temptation to stop asking, because we tire of the repetition, the monotony.

But God never tires of the “routine” of forgiving His children.

He “exults in the monotony” of giving forgiveness…

… of creating clean hearts

… of renewing right spirits

… of once again giving joy

May we all get a little younger in this regard, and be more willing to say, “Do it again, God,” as much as we need it.

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