God had made everything suitable for its time… Ecclesiastes 3: 1

So we find ourselves in that the Church season calls ordinary time. Yet we have lost our sense of what is ordinary in the sense of what is ordinary in these last 16 months.

I have tried to track an ordinary day in these last few weeks. I have found that though there is nothing extraordinary, there is nothing predictable.

  • I have an appointment and the appointment is changed
  • I have a list and the store is out of what I listed
  • I plan an on-line conversation and the Wifi, or the internet, or the power, on the block goes out
  • I am told that masks are no longer required and then they are again

So I am beginning to equate “ordinary” with “unpredictable.” Will the repairman return the phone call? will the traffic allow me to arrive on time? Everything must be written in erasable pencil.

(MUCH LATER) And now this Sunday, Ordinary Time will come to an end…and what has become clear to me? These months of this time were to be lived moment by moment, with elasticity, but also hope and trust that each moment has holiness in it if I am paying attention, not always east to do. I touch holiness easily when I am doing my sacred prayer and reading with music in the air and candle lit. It’s much more problematic when I have spilled something on the floor, or have to reschedule an appointment where the office has made a mistake, or when someone responds sarcastically to my sharing an idea or perspective. Ordinary Time has required living by a much more muscular faith that “all will be well. all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” It has asked me to pay closer attention to the places “where the Light gets in,” and to savor them, and to be deeply grateful.

Thanksgiving has been the culmination of remembering both how stressful these particular months of living with a pandemic have been, and how much Grace has been “downloaded” in the same months. I see a picture of last year’s celebration in the backyard, sitting across the yard from the family, separate tables, separate dishes, with diagnoses and media protocols hanging over our spirits. This year we were not only sharing a table, common dishes, but hugs and touches and smiles and laughter in person. It was and is all Ordinary Time, because each day is a day that the Holy One has made, and we are learning to be glad and rejoice in it, even through deep grief and loss and disillusionment and distress.

Advent begins in darkness. But wait! Haven’t we been living in the ordinary darkness of not knowing, not seeing, all these months? Yes, AND we have been living and loving in the cracks where the Light has gotten in–the episodic freedom the has come when protocols have changed, the small but mighty advances in awareness and actions for justice and mercy, the blooming of gifts in and for people we love as they respond their life circumstances with persistence and courage. And we have continued to trust in the Love that does not let us go, even, maybe especially, in the dark.

As the Church begins a new year this week I am am deeply aware of the ordinary darkness, of the lack of clarity, of the not-knowing, but I am determined to keep looking for the Light in whatever ways it breaks through, and to live with the Extraordinary Hope that comes to us even in the most ordinary of days, times, moments!