In the Christian Liturgical calendar, there are distinct periods of celebration and preparation and then, in between those seasons, there is what is called, “ordinary time”. As I watch my Jewish friends, clients, and colleagues in their holiday preparations in the last weeks, I’m even more aware that for me, this is ordinary time. There aren’t many big parties or events to plan or look forward to right now. It’s not only that it isn’t Christmas or Easter, the rest of life is rather ordinary too. Kids are playing sports, but there isn’t a tournament or playoff situation yet. There is music, but no recital around the corner. We’re in the rhythm of school, but there are no big exams just yet. All the push that comes in universities and schools starting has subsided and now, there’s the ordinary.
How do you experience ordinary time? I find myself getting a little anxious. If there is something ahead that is consuming or exciting, it distracts me. Ordinary time can leave me feeling a little off; not that it lacks busyness, but the busyness lacks focus. Like having a low-grade fever, life in ordinary time can feel like living with a perpetual question in the back of my mind. “Am I missing something? Is there something I ought to be doing?” How sad that seasons of relative quiet can be so…disquieting! Has the mundane become disturbing? Have I lost my comfort with generalized life? Or, ought I ask, have I lost comfort with myself?
The irony is that during the non-ordinary times, I long for the ordinary times! I cannot wait for the freer schedule, and the absence of planning and anticipation. But once it is upon me, I’m not always sure what to do. It’s funny to wish the label “contemplative” for myself and then be forced to acknowledge a discomfort with life without adrenaline.
So what to do with myself? I’m trying to be more curious about the anxiety that comes with ordinary time for me. I’m letting it be the subject of my prayers and wonderings, open to discovering something new and deeper in my disquiet. As always, the invitation feels important to heed, and so, I am attempting to press in and discover how I lost my comfort with ordinary time. Perhaps that is the wisdom of the liturgical cycle. It presses us to discover ourselves anew; without distraction or anticipation.
And you? How does ordinary time sit with you?