Thursday, August 15, 2013

An Ordinary Time

ordinary time, green, communion, body, bread, wine, blood, liturgical year, church

by Lyndsey Graves

In the Western liturgical calendar, there are two periods called “ordinary time.” They’re so named because the weeks are numbered “ordinally,” but the reason they’re only numbers is because there’s nothing else going on. It’s not Advent or Pentecost or any other season; we’re all just counting along, and everything church-wise is ordinary.

The summer stretch is the longer of the two, and in the past I have found it pretty boring. There’s no pizzazz, no big event, just the same old green and the same old services, week after week.  Often, I haven’t liked for life to be ordinary; I want to jump into the next big thing. I want dazzling. Memorable. New.

In fact, I used to be afraid of ordinary. “Settling” for ordinary seemed like the sure way to develop the kind of terminal mediocrity that plagues the suburbs where I grew up. I liked Advent and Lent, when there was stuff to do and prepare for and celebrate; I thought that church and my life, in order to be growing, needed to be all spectacular, all the time. But after a year of very non-ordinary circumstances, the sort that left the people around me with little to say but, “At least it was a learning experience; at least you grew a lot!” – I am thankful, but I am done. The spurt is over.

There is a reason green is the customary color for ordinary time. It recalls all the green growing miraculous things outside, and reminds us that a lull in the festivities does not doom us to stagnation. A lull in the festivities might mean we’re forced to stop distracting ourselves from the tedious but necessary work of slow, steady growth - even if it just looks like waiting. 

For me, it’s been a long while since I wasn’t rising to some kind of occasion, and a season with no adrenaline rush (except the visit to Six Flags with my brother) has been a re-centering. Some people get exhausted by that rush, some people get addicted to it, but we all need to detox. Let these long hazy days blur into one another; do the laundry again; take a walk; pull some weeds; have a drink on the porch. Be.

dazzling, nature, ordinary, green, tree, sunstreakThe feasts and fasts and holidays of the church are meant to focus us on specific stories, specific aspects of the Christian life. But this year I need a little bit of unfocused, a little slow, unstructured. It’s brilliant that I don’t have to be a certain way or concentrate on a certain thing. Ordinary time is about the basics, and the basics are not only what I need, but also what I’ve been longing for unknowingly. Love. Grace. Faith. They’re not new, but they’re just as dazzling as the trees, reaching green, a fraction taller today in their ordinary worship of God.

Lyndsey lives and works in Syracuse, NY. She majored in theology at Lee University, which is like eating cake or listening to thunderstorms - too enjoyable to be called work. Also, no one will pay you to do it. You can follow her on Twitter @lyndseygraves and you can find more of her writing at her blog To Be Honest.

You can follow On Pop Theology on Twitter @OnPopTheology or like us on Facebook at
You might also like:

No comments:

Post a Comment