Well, we made it. Through the holidays/new year/end of the Christmas season. And where does that leave us? Plopped right in the middle of January (also known as the month that never ends . . .), and at the start of Ordinary Time.
Ordinary. I used to hate that word – I feared it, really. After all, what good can come from something that is merely ordinary? Shouldn’t I be striving towards the extraordinary instead of “settling” for the ordinary?
The reality is that just like most of the Church’s liturgical season is composed of ordinary time, most of our lives are filled with the ordinary. Sure there are the ups and the downs, things that warrant celebrations and sorrow – but most of it falls into the category of “ordinary”.
I have started to get in the habit of recounting my day as I brush my teeth at night (I brush my teeth in the morning, too. Don’t worry!!). As I am standing there thinking about the day, I try to remember three things that I am grateful for and three things that I could have done better. (For those of you wondering, this is what we call the examination of conscience for those that have short attention spans). During this time, I am constantly amazed at the things that stick out to me from the day, most of which are “ordinary”.
I had someone tell me last week that this time in my life isn’t necessarily hard (it’s actually pretty simple), but it is taxing. I am being called in a unique way during this time to give of myself in really ordinary ways. And although I know that it is all (please God) for the good of the Church and the Kingdom, it is hard to not think that everything is going unnoticed. However, when I really take a step back, I have been humbled time and time again when I have seen how God has so graciously given me extraordinary grace to power through the ordinary.
I’m comforted in knowing that our Blessed Lord – who certainly could have done anything that He wanted – spent most of His life (30 of the 33 years) leading a sort of ordinary life. Those 30 years that Jesus spent were rather ordinary – but what followed was absolutely extraordinary. And that’s just it – Jesus can only do really extraordinary things through us if we are faithful in the ordinary.
When I’m really honest with myself, the ordinary things that I have been able to experience – and really appreciate! – are some of the most beautiful. Kind emails from highschoolers thanking me for what I am doing, quick phone calls catching up with friends, the privilege of seeing Catholic family life lived out – all these ordinary things have filled my heart in an extraordinary way.
So I’m learning to not be so afraid of the ordinary. After all, this ordinary time – where so much of the Church year is lived out – provides such a privileged chance to see God in the details. The joy that is found in recounting the ordinary moments of each day is a breath of fresh air compared to a world that tells us we need to constantly be moving on to bigger and better things. And mostly, I’m grateful for a God that continually presents Himself in the extraordinary, yes, but also in the ordinary.