Tuesday’s Word: mundane

Many of you will be aware of the story of Kara Tippetts, a remarkable woman who shared her journey through breast cancer in the light of faith. Christianity Today  recently featured an article remembering Kara and her ‘mundane faithfulness’ (the title of her blog). In response, a friend of mine wondered, “Is faithfulness ever mundane?”

mundane:  lacking interest or excitement; dull

I get what she was saying. The workaday meaning, the definition that comes up at the top of the list when you Google the word, indicates that mundane is synonymous with boring, tedious, and wearisome. We view the mundane tasks of our days with distaste, either rushing through them first thing in the morning to get them out of the way or putting them off as long as possible so as not to waste the best part of the day on them. To label faithfulness as mundane will suggest to some people that it is lackluster, uneventful, not worthy of the time and effort required to practice it.

But wait. There’s more.

Some other listed synonyms of mundane are unvarying, repetitive, routine. It still doesn’t sound particularly exhilarating, but do you see what I see? These words are uncannily descriptive of faithfulness!

There’s another definition, too – one that is much more closely tied to the Latin origin of the word.

mundane:  of, relating to, or characteristic of the world
(as contrasted with heaven)

In this light, what could faithfulness be except mundane? Here, in the world we live in, the world of which we’re made – this is where we must practice the repetitive acts of prayer and care and intention and devotion which constitute the daily living out of our faith.

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