Although these days feel pretty extraordinary in their weirdness, Christians are actually deep into what is historically known as Ordinary Time. This period is the long season with no significant religious holidays until Advent, a time marked by the blessed lack of insistence that we focus on particular aspects of the Christian story and freedom to go (liturgically speaking) wherever we need to go!
I’ve always been more comfortable with Ordinary Time, and frankly, with being ordinary. When I was in training to become a spiritual director, I heard a lot of stories from classmates about miraculous and mystical life events that molded them into the spiritual beings that they were. I was happy for them, but had a hard time relating because my spiritual experiences have mostly been earthy, garden-variety, ordinary experiences where my awareness of God was heightened. No lightening strikes, burning bushes, walk-on-water kinds of experiences for me.
Ordinary is walking down the street to have a burrito at your favorite diner and realizing how peaceful you are in that moment — how blessed you are to have access to the world’s finest Mexican street food. Ordinary is noticing how your nagging stomach ache (the one you get from being stressed out — not the one from the burrito) melts away when you lay atop a hill in your favorite park, healed by the energy of God’s powerful earth.
Ordinary is having a friend say just the right word or phrase to you when you are having a “sinking spell” and want to give up. Ordinary is also watching your 18-year-old cat have a case of the zoomies and skid through the house like her tail is on fire.
Paying Attention to OrdinaryThe tricky part of living in ordinary time is noticing the subtle movement of the Spirit in the midst of everyday life. We don’t have to experience visions or receive visitations from angels (though both are amazing gifts) to appreciate God’s outreach to us. We do need to become finely tuned to all that is good, true, kind and life-giving, and then savor it. That’s why I love the ordinary time that falls in the summer. For many of us, work slows down and we are allowed time to see the beauty in the ordinary. Ordinary is the Norm
What I share with people who come to spiritual direction with me — people who deeply desire a momentous experience of God — is that those mountaintop experiences tend to be unexpected, pure gift and rare. Most mystics will tell you that we can prepare for them, open ourselves to them and hope for them, but we can’t make them happen! So most of our experiences of God will probably be ordinary.
That being the case, I want to lean into it and make the most of ordinary time. I don’t need a party or a religious holiday to mark it. Maybe just a blanket on a park hillside and nothing to do but be.
Are you interested in being in spiritual direction? I have openings in my schedule for new directees — regardless of where you live. I can work by phone or Skype or if you live in the Phoenix metro area we can meet in person. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.teresablythe.net. Also visit my website for the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction.