Growing up Catholic, there were many of the rites and rituals that I loved--when the old manger scene was put up at Christmas, the songs we sang on Easter Sunday. There's something magical about celebrating traditions older than ourselves, about upholding the rituals dating back generation upon generation. As an adult, I still am fond of those things, but what speaks to my heart most now are the Sundays in Ordinary Time.
Ordinary Time is, simply put, the Sundays when there aren't feasts or special circumstances to be celebrated, when we celebrate all of who Christ is rather than one or a series of specific acts. It is ordinary not because it is plain or common, but because that time is counted and put in order (think ordinal numbers). Though our hearts often cry out for the Child in the manger or the Resurrection of Easter, we live so much of our lives in that ordinary time, the time between.
I think that when we are growing up, we believe that our adult lives are going to be a highlight reel of awesomeness. We think of all the incredible things we are going to do and say and be, and we gloss over many of the realities of everyday life. No one grows up thinking how great they are going to be at paying their bills on time every month or how they will dominate a trip to the grocery store. We dream of our incredible careers which we will always love with passion and intensity, and not how some days you might just want to run screaming from the premises. We imagine ourselves rock stars of all personal relationships--having warm heart-to-hearts with friends over weekly dinners and giving our significant others and kids all the time and love they deserve. We don't dream of the grind, of the everyday, of the ordinary.
But of truth of the matter is that even if it feels like nothing extraordinary is happening, every day counts. There is a great power in the ordinary. It may not feel like the life we imagined, but it's not until we fully address each day as it is that we can harness its untapped potential. The Easters and the Christmases, the celebrations of life's milestones, may be the highs that keep us going, but its the average and the mundane that test what we are really made of.
I realize that we are no longer in Ordinary Time on the Liturgical Calendar. It's Lent now and historically, I have not been great at observing any real Lenten practices. (I don't even try to give up chocolate anymore, because not even Jesus wants me, or the people around me, to suffer like that.) But this year, I'm making an effort to really look each day fully in the face to see what opportunities it might have for me, even if those opportunities look a lot more like work. I feel like I spend so much of my time just surviving that I forget that my days are numbered, and that there is, most certainly, a finite supply. I want to find the joy in what appears, at first glance, to be run-of-the-mill. I am choosing to believe it is there. And I'm going to mine it for everything it's worth.
Blogger's note: I know it's been forever since I posted anything. I don't know if this is the beginning of new blogging streak or what, but I felt compelled to share. It's likely that I will continue to post, but less often than I once did. I'm not sure. But I am forever grateful for the people I have met through this corner of the universe, and I still keep up with your blogs. I'm also madly in love with Twitter, so you can always find me there @msmiller111.