Monday, September 26, 2011

Ordinary Time

For many in churches in the liturgical tradition, this time after Pentecost is known as "Ordinary Time"...paraments remain firmly green, the season unbroken by high holy days, and a certain sameness pervades the readings from scripture, as week after week we seem to focus on the same topics. Someone remarked to me last Sunday that it is getting kind of most of life, I think, where a sameness pervades daily existence and we have trouble seeing beyond it, often struggling to find some meaning in the daily chores and commitments, the trials and tasks which mark the sun's rising and setting. And yet...isn't that what a great deal of the spiritual journey is about? Relishing, reveling in the ordinary, the everyday? It is, after all, where we lives our lives- most of the time... and how much we let slip through our fingers if we can only enjoy and appreciate the highs, the mountaintop experiences. Life is lived mostly in the valleys and on the plains...and even with that awareness, I often struggle with appreciating the ordinariness of my life. Perhaps you do, too. And so I write...

How tightly we clench our fists
around moments of bliss,
moments of clarity! How
we long to stay on the mountaintop,
reveling in the tantalizing transfiguration
of the ordinary into the extraordinary.
But the reality is that most of life is ordinary-
if that can truly & fully describe
      a scarlet cardinal at the bird feeder
          or the shining light of the full moon,
      the taste of the first morning coffee
          or the feel of a comfortable bed at day’s end,
      the smile of a child swinging high at the playground
          or the cozy presence of a beloved pet,
      the savory, cinnamon-tinged flavor of homemade
           or the house-filling aroma of soup cooking on the

And even when we find ourselves
longing for those earth-shattering moments
of startling illumination and beauty,
eventually we will realize- if we are honest
with ourselves- that the place we want to be
is where we already are-
                          and it is home.

an ordinary life
I have had an ordinary life
in so many ways…ordinary to me,
al least. Yet I was always fed & clothed &
housed & loved and never neglected or abused-
...except for when I was three, by a man of
importance and integrity, or so my
family believed...
…except for the years I spent trying to
live up to what I felt were the expectations
of two wonderful but perfectionistic parents,
believing I had to measure up in order to count-
yet unsure if I ever could or would.
…except for my need to have boys “love” me,
though my need was never truly satisfied,
for love had long ago become confused in my
mind with physical touch.
…except for the heavy and heartless hand
of death which fell on my life over and over
and over again, driving me to my knees,
whipped and whimpering.

But always I arose, always found
some inner strength (the presence of God,
I suspect). Always I traveled on, step by step,
my face pointed into the wind-
     my ordinary face,
     my ordinary steps,
     my ordinary life,
…except for giving birth to three amazing
children and adopting another.
…except for the presence of nine uniquely
lovely grandchildren who bring love and
laughter to my days.
…except for the beautiful gathering of
friends populating my life throughout
the years.
…except for the life-changing travel to
the Dominican Republic and Ghana and
Chaco Canyon and Iona and East Africa.
…except for the mid-life choice to go
to seminary and become a pastor.
…except for daring to write and
publish three books after my retirement.

So- an ordinary life?
       How extraordinary!

With a tip of the hat to John Lennon whose song, Imagine, always makes me cry.
living in a world
where you are bathed in
where no matter what is
happening your heart
is at peace

living free of dissatisfaction
of making comparisons
full of simply
being yourself
living in openness
and acceptance- of yourself
as you are
of others as they are
with no victimizing or

living in gratitude
for the incredible gift
which is this life-
for breath and blood and thought
for emotion and for touch
for hearing, sight, and speech

living in the place
of needing nothing more
to make life complete
of dwelling in the sense
of enough
just imagine!

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