Ordinary is ‘not nothing!’
On this First Friday of June, I am, for some reason, quite conscious of the liturgical shift from the glorious season of Easter, crescendo-ing in the Spirit’s fullness of presence at Pentecost to … well … a good bit of what the Church calls ‘ordinary.’
As in the liturgical seasons, the seasons of our prayer and life have their own shifts, stages, textures, feels and phases.
In prayer, we may recall periods when our own encounters with the Divine were intense, powerful, precious or intimate.
We may also recall prayer periods of … well … the long, lingering ordinary. No intensity, no powerful feelings, no amazing insights, no passion, no ecstasy.
So too this is true in life! We all remember the moments of joy and wonder: graduations, weddings and births. Even our lives’ chapters of illusions shattered, relationships torn, and loved ones’ deaths are times when, very often, God was present in some miraculous way.
In contrast we are also painfully aware of the ho-hum, day-in and day-out life. The just … well … ordinary!
I used to consider time spent with my dad as just ordinary. I spent almost every vacation as an adult with my widowed father. I did not travel to Europe, go to some luxurious beach, or visit any worldly wonder – just his home, humble and homely as it was.
In 2018 my dad died.
With the perspective of hindsight, I look back at what I thought were moments of ‘ordinariness’ in my life with him. Not surprisingly, I have begun to see those moments as sacred. These include, hours of just sitting next to my father while each of us were just reading our books, just driving together to the grocery store, walking to the hamlet’s run-down diner for the same old cup of coffee with same old group having what seemed like just the same old conversation … every same old morning.
No fireworks. No worldly wonders. Just ordinary (perhaps even, at times, boring) stuff — and yet, super sacred in retrospect!
Now, I have this new insight about my prayer: some days just sitting in my prayer chair may seem … well … ordinary.
Just sitting in simplicity in my prayer chair … no drama, no seeming miracles, no fireworks, no glorious ecstasies or flames of fire … just … being … together …
Ordinary is surely not nothing!
May I, may we, be awake enough to know the truth of that in the midst of our ordinary moments.
Reflection: Maureen Glavin, RSCJ
Image: Photo by Maureen Glavin, RSCJ