In the Christian Liturgy, today is the sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Ron Rolheiser writes that the phrase “ordinary time” is used for a dual purpose. First, to highlight the liturgical seasons of Christmas and Easter making us less likely to feel as if we ‘missed Christmas’ because of the endless distractions of daily life- too mired in preparation to take note of any meaning. Secondly, to make more perceptible the ocean of quiet miracles in which we swim: The smile of a stranger, touch of a loved one, a good cup of coffee.
We use the word ordinary to convey the commonplace, the lack of something special, the routine. And yet, quite often its opposite, is all too often, a crisis. Whether clothed in the fabric of sudden death, accident or loss, the extraordinary is frequently an event that changes everything in our life. An event which serves as a chronometer; ‘before the accident’ or ‘after she died.’
Rolheiser writes that we are given more than thirty weeks of ordinary time- more than 210 days to “meet the angels of routine, regularity, domesticity and predictability,” There are a plethora of ways to thwart our mindfulness of what David Stendahl-Rast calls the “special angels” which lurk within each hour of our daily lives. At times, it is unavoidable. There are people and situations which are ignored to our peril. But what of those hours robbed by anxieties that are not our own but those of another, those whose business it is to rob us of peace, of joy? Or hours wasted in activities which we know are not helpful to us? Hours that we’ll not have again?
Perhaps today could be a day in celebration of the ordinary. And then tomorrow. Eventually a willingness to revel in this hour right now could deliver the habit of rejoicing in the quiet miracle of breathing. Could produce that which each of all seven billion souls on this planet pursue: Happiness.
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest for while.”
Gospel of Matthew