Friday, July 5, 2013


The Church through the ages has thoughtfully divided up the calendar year into sections of weeks when certain biblical events are commemorated—Advent leads to the birth of Jesus, Lent leads to Easter, and then an extended Easter Season culminates in Pentecost. In between is what the Church calls “Ordinary Time.” That doesn't mean those weeks and months are not important. They are filled with Feast Days for Saints and other lesser commemorations than the “biggies” already mentioned.

We tend to count much of our lives as “ordinary time,” common, mediocre, middling, when nothing special is going on. When we were still in the working world, we might have viewed our time differently. There was something to wake up for, to look forward to. Our job or career gave our life meaning, made us feel worthwhile; someone paid wages for what we did. We lived significant lives.

Some who are retired from active public life are tempted to feel keenly the monotony and meaninglessness of our lives at home or in a retirement community. They feel as if they are “putting in their hours” but for what purpose? Perhaps there are times when we wake up in the morning thinking, What’s the use? What I do today doesn’t make any difference to anyone. We are just plodding along in the humdrum, the routine, the unglamorous, commonplace everydayness. There is nothing exciting to look forward to. Some of my friends in residential care centers tell me their lives are defined by pill time and pillow time with mealtimes between being the only diversion to anticipate.

A dash (–) is seen between the date of birth and the date of death on a grave marker. That is called an ellipsis. The dash represents all the days and years of a person's life, the ordinary as well as the eventful. We see … or *** in printed text where a word or sentence or more is omitted or suppressed. That is an ellipsis. It is not because what is left out is not important or less important. Everything must be accurately accounted for because it is part of the entire context. 

There is nothing in my life that warrants an ellipsis, that can be skipped over. Nothing can be overlooked, omitted, or left out of God's sight because it is unimportant or ordinary. God doesn't use an ellipsis when He sums up my lifetime. All of it is significant to the context of my life, to make up the totality of who I am, what I have become. No thought or word or action of mine is ordinary in the sense that it doesn't count. It all counts for eternity. The Scripture declares that God judges us on whatever we do and whatever we are in the daily round of life.

The truth is, there is no ordinary. The great lesson from the truly devout through the ages is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, friends, and family, in one's back yard. Naturalist John Burroughs wrote, “The lesson that life constantly enforces is 'Look underfoot.' You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Don't despise your own place and hour.”

The sacred is in the ordinary; every moment, every pain, every joy, every minute of doubt and elation, is the “Holy Now” – the moment to know and be known by God.

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