(W)ordinary Time: Learning To Cherish the “Ordinary”

Everyone knows about Easter and Christmas.

But what about Ordinary Time? It’s by far the longest season in the church calendar, observed by Christian liturgical traditions basically from Epiphany to Ash Wednesday (early January to early March, varying a bit based on the timing of Easter) and from Pentecost to Advent (early June to late November). We’re talking a total of about 8 months. SO MUCH TIME.

I used to think “Ordinary Time” sounded a bit like this:

But now I’m learning it’s more like this:

Tangled gif

Ordinary Time is a time “when faith goes flat” and we learn to rejoice.

A time when we “descend the great mountain peaks of Easter and Christmas in order to ‘pasture’ in the vast verdant meadows of tempus per annum, or Ordinary Time.”

A time when we move from the mountains of Virginia to the plains of Texas, as I literally did last year. It can be tempting to think that, in a sort of cosmic rock-paper-scissors game, mountains are better than plains. But, the truth is, if we open our eyes, both are beautiful in their own ways.

Writers from all kinds of religious (and non-religious) perspectives, love to open our eyes to those things that are beautiful in their own ways. Take these writers, for instance:

  • Kathleen Norris in The Quotidian Mysteries: “It is in the ordinary, the here-and-now, that God asks us to recognize that the creation is indeed refreshed like dew-laden grass that is ‘renewed in the morning’ or to put it in more personal and also theological terms, ‘our inner nature is being renewed everyday'” (1998).
  • Mary Oliver in her poem “Messenger“: “My work is loving the world / … which is mostly standing still and learning to be / astonished” (2006).
  • Shauna Niequist in her recent bestseller Cold Tangerines: “I believe that if we cultivate a true attention, a deep ability to see what has been there all along, we will find worlds within us and between us, dreams and stories and memories spilling over” (2010).

How do we “cultivate a true attention” like these writers describe?

We practice.

There are specific ways that writers can practice identifying fodder for our writing and specific ways that Christians can practice identifying God in our lives — and I daresay a lot of overlap between the two.

Join with me as I journey on this blog through the rest of Ordinary Time, aiming about twice a month to post a specific way that writing and religion have taught me to cherish the ordinary.

 

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