This week, we enter the season of Ordinary Time — the time which is not a high feast, not Lent, not Advent, not dedicated to introspection or fasting or waiting or weeping — just to the living of daily life. This year, I find that I enter it with a gasp of thankfulness. Perhaps because Holy Week really was rich; perhaps because we were celebrating my sister’s marriage and because someone dear to me was in surgery — I am ready for something simple and wholesome, a clean, plain room for the spirit. A warm slice of wheat bread fresh from the oven, with a little butter melting on it. A desk and a chair and a view of grass. Ordinary things that nourish the soul.
Kathleen Norris writes, in The Quotidian Mysteries, “the daily we have always with us, a nagging reminder that the dishes must be done, the floor mopped and vacuumed, the dirty laundry washed….It is a paradox of human life that in worship, as in human love, it is in the routine and the everyday that we find the possibilities for the greatest transformation.” By sheer weight of repetition, the ordinary shapes our soul, and how we enter it matters. If we enter it protesting, struggling against it, trying to find always the next high, the next achievement, discounting anything that is not rimmed with bright lights and flares of music, then much of our life becomes a pallid, gray thing, leached of significance. But if we enter it as we enter the ocean, seeking home, seeking joy, a bit nervous about what might lie under the surface, but still ready to receive what it has to give, then it may become for us holy ground.
In the end, the ordinary is about Incarnation: all those long days and years in which Jesus walked dusty roads, ate coarse bread, splashed in the shallow lake after fish, petted a cat, did all the things that made up his days before and between and after the miracles. When he taught, he did not speak of the mountaintop, but of what made up those times: lilies and dropped coins, birds and needy neighbors, a woman kneading yeast into a loaf. He suggests that the daily is good enough — good in itself and enough to bring our souls to wholeness. This summer, let it work in you.
Let God work in you.