Living in Ordinary Time
We are living in Ordinary Time. The Sacred Ordinary Days planner that I have dated, married, fought with and separated from in the last six months is wooing me again. I moved back in. It promises me a way to live in ordinary time, which sounds so hopelessly boring I dare not go it alone.
The word ordinary has connotations of both time and order. The weeks are numbered and they stand outside of the other seasons of the calendar. Apparently I’ve already missed a smaller stretch of it between Epiphany and Lent but that was while I was in a break-up with the planner. The longest season of Ordinary time has begun and runs from now to the end of November.
Green is the color and suggests themes of life and growth. Green is the color of hope after the gray and brown of winter has passed. During this season, rather than looking at a particular event in the life of Christ, we celebrate the mystery of Christ in all its aspects.
I could easily get lost.
Arguably it will be the hardest season. It doesn’t have the impatient, unfulfilled longing of Advent or the suffering of Lent. Worse, I fear, could be the complacency of a season called Ordinary Time. This will be the season I am most prone to forget. I don’t know who named it, but if they wanted to entice me to remember the larger story in which I live, couldn’t they have come up with a better name for this part?
Green is the color of hope.
I wonder if remembering the larger story is only part of the point of the liturgical year. What if it’s a pattern for my own life, reflecting like a labyrinth, the circular, circuitous path that often feels regressive and ambiguous to the traveler yet has a singular path to its center?
Advent is Anticipation. Christmas is Celebration. Epiphany is Revelation. Lent is Endurance and Suffering. Pentecost is Receiving and Empowerment. Ordinary Time is …Ordinary Time. Could every moment of my life not fit into one of those headings: anticipation, celebration, revelation, endurance and suffering, receiving and empowerment - and when it’s none of the above, bubble in “Ordinary Time.”
I just don’t like the name. I want anything but ordinary. Most of us would rather feel pain than nothing; at least in suffering we know we are alive.
So how do I live in ordinary time? It is the season I will least likely attend to; but I want it, also, to become sacred space, dotted with intervals of transcendence. I want those moments when the mundane appears infused with the sacred. Even as I write that line I suspect that all the mundane IS sacred; it’s just that I can’t usually see it. The light is on, but my eyes are closed.
I read this week in Acts 3 where Peter, explaining himself after commanding a lame man to walk, said to the onlookers, “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.” The word ‘author’ stuck out for obvious reasons.
The Word spoke the world into existence. An author’s words create a book. Writers often speak of ‘birthing a book’. The words come from within her onto the page and go out for others, but they always carry her voice, her imagination, memory, experience, and knowledge. Her person is in those pages. All writing is self-revelatory. Is the world and everything in it not revelatory? Is it not all sacred?
“The Author of Life” Peter calls him.
Green is the color of life.
It’s the way of us humans to mostly live in the ordinary, to see through a glass darkly, to think those rare sunlit spaces where the slivers of light converge are exceptional. But as I begin the long path of this season, I want to open my eyes, to slow down and take the time to see just how extraordinary Ordinary Time can be.