Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary – Rediscovering the Value of Tradition

But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
    the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;
    and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
    and the breath of every human being.
(Job 12:7-10, NRSV)

Family walks have become a tradition for us. We love to get outdoors and soak up the fresh air, gazing on the beauty of God’s creation all around. During the school year, we find time on the weekend for this beloved tradition. We have our favorite spots, including several nature parks and trail venues. Still, there is always the neighborhood lake.

Just a couple blocks from us, we venture to the lake probably once a week. Sundays in particular have become a time for our lake walk. I enjoy my down time on Sunday–when I generally set aside coursework, publications, and conference prep–and a visit to the lake requires little effort, save throwing on some outdoor clothes. I can wake up from a Sunday afternoon snooze, grab the wife and kids, head out the door and there it is. . .

The lake is a ripe habitat for a host of different birds and sea creatures. My son, Joseph, has become our little orthnologist. We love counting the various bird species–seagulls, egrets, bald eagles, harens, mallard ducks, geese, pelicans, blue birds, turkey vultures, and the like. One Sunday, Joseph tallied off about fifteen different species he’d identified that day! The girls and I love running together in the open field at the lakefront. Over the years, they have gained on their dad in speed and I imagine it won’t be long before they can challenge me in the 40-meter dash. By the afternoon’s end, my wife and I make sure we have met our 30-minute cardio quotient with a stroll along the neighbordhood sidewalks.

We do the lake-walk almost every week. In this sense, it has become a part of our ordinary routine. Yet, it never becomes dull or stagnant. It’s the same place each time, nevertheless, this ordinary affair is extraordinary because it is something we do together. There is a certain longevity to such traditions that measures solidarity, and even faithfulness to one another and the beauty of God. Moreover, there are the subtle variations that enrich the experience, making fresh encounters each time. My son and I might identify a new bird species or nesting site. The girls and I will often cloud-gaze, perceiving new patterns and shapes each day. For the cardio portion, we might pick a different path to trod through the neighborhood streets.

And so, the lake has become a tradition, embodying the ordinary alongside the extraordinary. Every visit to the lake together is enriched with new and subtle shifts which give us a fresh taste of the beauty of creation all around. Together, we have embraced this tradition and find rejuvenation with each visit.

New Book – Released April 2021

We can find the extraordinary in our regular faith and family traditions if we open our horizons just enough. The light of God’s love and wonder is waiting to enchant us when we venture the path of the ordinary with our hearts and minds wide open.

Published by Paul J. Palma

Paul J. Palma is a professor of Christian history and theology at Regent University. He is the author of the books "Embracing Our Roots: Rediscovering the Value of Faith, Family, and Tradition," "Italian American Pentecostalism and the Struggle for Religious Identity" (Routledge Studies in Religion series), and "Grassroots Pentecostalism in Brazil and the United States: Migrations, Missions, and Mobility" (Palgrave Macmillan). He is also a contributing writer for Paul enjoys spending quality time with his family on walks together, going to the beach, fishing, and doing work around the yard.

4 thoughts on “Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary – Rediscovering the Value of Tradition

  1. Love your tradition of walking with the family! I enjoy walking also, but my views aren’t as appealing as yours. Family time with the children is so important!πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘£


  2. A very heaiing post. I had a particular rush of joy on Mother’s day that from all my walks with family one result was that my son and his wife walk together an hour every evening (all weathers — they are better than I am) and my daughter with husband and 4 and 6 years olds take walks nearly every day as well.


Leave a Reply to Paul J. Palma Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: