Thursday, January 15, 2015

Back to Ordinary Time

We are now in the second week of Ordinary Time according to the church liturgical calendar. It's not a surprise that I named this blog after the two seasons of non-holiday time in the church calendar. I both love Ordinary Time and find it extremely challenging. With the other seasons... Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter... there is a goal, special occasions, celebrations that set-aside those seasons as something special. We love holidays, but they can sometimes be exhausting and it feels good to get back to normal. Holidays can also help us to forget briefly the challenging parts of our everyday lives. This is why Ordinary Time can be both wonderful and hard. It is nice to go back to some semblance of a schedule, to a routine, but it is also hard because we are not good at the ordinary and everyday.

I know for myself, in calm seasons of life, I can chafe at the everyday and ordinary, at the routine of making dinner and cleaning and caring for children. I sometimes long for greater adventures, for seemingly greater purpose. In less calm seasons of life, the routine is exactly what I crave. I just want to stay home and not go to yet another doctor's appointment. I don't want surgeries looming up over my head both coming too soon and not soon enough all at the same time. I want to just stay home and clean my house and fix good food and spend time with my children. I am often not good at appreciating what I have at this exact moment and instead look for what I don't have.

Here is the beauty and mystery of Ordinary Time. It gives us a break from the special and at the same time forces us to look full on at the routine of our lives. At least it allows us to do this if we haven't so co-opted the ordinary into the busy. If we are realistic the church calendar should start with Advent and Christmas and rename them Super Busy Time, followed by Busy Time. Then in place of Lent and Easter (and the coming spring) it would be Really Busy Time. Summer would see the reappearance of just plain Busy Time before Super Busy Time rolls around again. Trying to survive my own Too Busy for my Taste Time (which should end after the homestudy is finished and the next surgery is over), makes me realize how much I miss when I am busy rushing here and there. I miss having time to be caught up with laundry and cleaning. I miss having time to just relax and play a game with a child. I miss having moments in my day when I do not have to do anything. Having those moments in my day to just take a breath, also allows me to remember the God is present with me. When I am too busy, I am also too busy to remember that simple yet important fact.

Every time I come out of a too busy time, I tell myself that this time I am going to really appreciate the everyday, the normal, the calm. Yet, I also know this can be a challenge. It always make me think of one of my favorite poems, Otherwise, by Jane Kenyon. Learn to slow down and appreciate the moments that you have.

 Otherwise by Jane Kenyon
©2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birchwood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

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