The Church has its own calendar, and each season has a color. We haven’t reached Pentecost yet, but we’re back to green until Ash Wednesday, meaning that it’s Ordinary Time. This might seem weird right now, considering COVID and all the crazy things going on in our nation at this particular moment. In the liturgical calendar ordinary doesn’t mean normal, rather that it’s not the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter — the four major seasons of the Church calendar.
Even so, I can’t help but feel calling this moment Ordinary Time feels like a misnomer. I mean, what’s ordinary right now? I don’t even mean, “what’s ordinary because everything is being done differently?”. I mean, “WHAT is ordinary?”. At this point I’m not certain I’d know it if it came up and bit me on the nose. In the last three years we’ve had a child, my wife completed her PhD, we moved to Massachusetts, had an au pair come and go, and my daughter has attended two preschools. I’ve had five jobs, no kidding, four of which since we moved here. Even the beginning of this call has been abnormal, considering I haven’t had the opportunity to meet most of y’all in person yet.
Seriously, what is ordinary?
When we look at history, we realize that as crazy as it sounds this really is pretty ordinary. I don’t mean masks and pandemic are normal, but these inconsiderate interruptions of life are most definitely normal. In my estimation, Ordinary Time really represents the chaos of the world interpreted through the lens of incarnation.
In the chaos, in the interruption, in the out of control spaces; in the fear and frustration and worry, God is here. God With Us is the deep mystery of our faith, and the ponderous sacramental reality of existence. When we look at the subatomic world it seems frenzied and unpredictable and wild and composed at its core of energy itself, but zoom out far enough and we see that all that frenetic energy is actually organized into a table and a font; a cross and an empty tomb. And our frantic lives are the energy of Existence breathed into us as we seek to find order in the chaos and realize that we’re just not enough for it on our own.But the truth of the ordinary is that God is with us.
When we zoom out from our own personal chaos, we see that we’re gathered at the table and the font, bound to the foot of the cross, staring wide eyed into the empty tomb — wondering “how can these things be?”. We find ourselves where we always are: standing at the crossroads of the extra and the ordinary, far out of our depth, yet in a space that feels okay if for no other reason than that we embrace the eternal paradox of God actively creating all that is, seen and unseen and who is, somehow, with us.