Written by Jacinta
“How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?” – G.K. Chesterton.
The phrase “changing the world” evokes images like being an inspiring teacher to many students, writing tremendous books that move many hearts and being a strong pro-life activist. But being a new mother has taught me that changing the world can look very different, and is often more “ordinary” than one would think...
I was fortunate enough to study my degree at Campion College. It taught me many wonderful ideals- and this developed in me an ambition to go out and do wonderful things. The humdrum simple life wasn’t for me- I was going to get out there and make a huge impact after graduation, wielding my Campion degree like a sword! I would travel and see beautiful sights; be involved in extraordinary events, spreading the Faith wherever I went. On top of this, I would, of course, be a super-mum and a devoted wife. ;-)
And now I have been finished for eighteen months. Hold on... how can I possibly ever change the world?? The only thing I seem to be changing is nappies! I haven’t done any great writing, and have very little time for pro-life work, political activism, teaching, or even any further study to get me going in those directions. I certainly have very few chances to make use of my degree. I’m just trying to find time to get dinner ready each day! This has led me to ask myself the question- what does changing the world actually look like? Is it just about convincing thousands of people to vote to change bad legislation? Winning a huge battle against evil advertising? Can it also look like one child being taught to love God and make good decisions by strong parents? To be involved in bringing about a significant change for good is incredible- but as G.K. Chesterton points out, why should I consider it “... a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe.”?
So perhaps what I am doing, and will be doing for many years to come, is deeply significant. But then, why does this life seem so ordinary? I have been obsessed for years with beauty, often struggling to see it in the world around me- usually expecting it be something more than what I am seeing and living. Reflecting on the simple, seemingly monotonous reality of my world at present, I was reminded of more wisdom from Chesterton that a dear friend had pointed out to me years ago:
“We should always endeavour to wonder at the permanent thing, not at the mere exception. We should be startled by the sun, and not by the eclipse. We should wonder less at the earthquake, and wonder more at the earth.”
These words challenged me to change my perspective and realise that there is an incredible beauty in the ordinary. The white nappies blowing around on the washing line, bright sunshine bouncing off them; singing songs and playing games with a smiling baby; the smell of fresh bread from the breadmaker; clean dishes drying on the rack- all of these things and much more, offer us a reminder that just because they are “ordinary” does not make them ugly or boring.
My life, at present, does not involve working towards the grand schemes I dreamed of. Every day is much the same as the rest with little chance it will change much for a long time. Nothing seems extraordinary and beautiful in the way that I used to imagine. But my husband Stephen and I are endeavouring to love and care for one amazing little boy, hoping to bring him up with faith, love and hope in God. I am learning to take joy in the ordinary and see it for how wonderful it really is. And I am realising that the life I am living is beautiful, extraordinary and has the power to change the world- one person at a time.
“The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.” – G. K. Chesterton