Christmas may be an event of memories now, packed away with unruly strings of lights and treasured ornaments, waiting for the next unwrapping. While those things will speak then of the harbors of the past, represent what is steady and stable and known, the ordinary days between now and then will have quietly changed more than can be imagined.
Ordinary days are devoted to the simplicity of living, caring for loved ones, and grafting dreams onto the reality of each day’s experiences. There is the day to day of what matters: sleeping, eating, communicating and caring, hurting and healing, searching and discovering, creating and accomplishing, trying and failing. Those moments, the ways time is shared and spent, sculpts who we are. We may be unpacking the same Christmas boxes next year, but we will not be the same persons. Ordinary time will have touched and changed us in ways mysteriously imperceptible and vividly visible.
“Ordinary time” is anything but, yet it comprises the majority of the Church’s liturgical year. The wisdom of that is that it mirrors human experience. So much of life is ordinary, and the Church borrows the phrase as a reminder of what is most truly sacred, of the spaces where what is created can intersect with what is celebrated, what is most holy in one can be respected in another, what is deeply good can be seen and chosen and embraced. Ordinary time, like ordinary days, is that invitation to hear the whisper of the divine in the softest breeze and the strongest wind. Ordinary time means taking the time to look carefully at what we see, to listen throughly to what we hear, to reverence what we touch.
Ordinary time is discovering and knowing the extraordinary is here with us everyday. Easter and Christmas glow within the Church’s calendar. But the essence of both is found in the way ordinary time is lived. Each ordinary day, each choice, defines who we are and enables, empowers change. To some extent, that rests within our own human hands. Coping with the circumstances that occur, tragedy and triumphs, the unexpected and the disastrous, that leads to crafting sense of the incomprehensible. And even that, the new normals, become ordinary.
“Ordinary time” is anything but in the Catholic tradition. It is the sacred space of each day, and it is the awareness that the divine resides with us always.