The Gift of Ordinary

The kids are off to school, the dishes from last night waiting for me in the sink, the to-do list for the day growing as I add all the details I forgot about yesterday.  But first, I pause.  I have a morning routine that I cherish in this one, silent part of the day.

I open the curtains to the drizzle of rain outside, step over the Shopkins town carefully laid out on the floor and resist the urge to straighten the mess left on the coffee table as I move towards “my” chair in the living room.

It’s an ordinary day.

The podcast I often start my mornings with, Pray As You Go, put out by the Jesuits seem to agree:

Today is Tuesday, the 25th of September, in the 25th week of ordinary time, the British voice announces.  

Ordinary time.  

The season of my life.

I know he’s referring to the liturgical calendar, not the state of my day, but it still resonates with me.

The not-special days.

The same-old, regular, normal and boring seasons.

I sometimes find myself wanting to skip past that part.  I don’t need reminding of how unremarkable my days have become.

But recently that word, “ordinary”, has begun to carry more weight.

The word ordinary comes from the Latin ōrdō – the same word we get “order” from.  It means to count.  Or to mark.  Or to number.  It’s the opposite of chaos – something to be desired and pursued.  Ordinary time is counted time.

I can’t get that out of my head.

Ordinary time is counted time.

It’s amazing how often that word comes up in every day conversation:

“What’s on your plate, today?”

“Oh, nothing.  Just an ordinary day.”

I can’t even hear that word without parsing it; taking it apart and holding it separately than I used to.  Just a make-it-count day, then?

I’m rolling the word over on my tongue and in my head and wanting to exclaim with delight each time I hear it, because I’m in love with how I’ve underestimated this little word.

I lean back in my chair again, one more morning just like the last, but this time savouring those words:

Today is Thursday, the 27th of September, the 25th week of ordinary time, and I think this time counts.  

This ordinary.  This season of parent-teacher interviews, soup-making, floor-sweeping, bed-making time counts.  It is worth savouring.  It is worth marking.  The order I bring from chaos is what makes my ordinary remarkable.

There are no more “just an ordinary day,” with this definition.  Nothing unimportant about the mundane.  In this economy, ordinary is worth marking, and it counts.

May your days be full of the ordinary.

May they count.

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