Musings on “Ordinary Time”

I was raised Catholic. As a little girl, I would sit in church with my grandmother or my mother, and at some point during the Mass, the priest would announce that it was something like “the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time”. As a child, I found this announcement amusing and bewildering. Ordinary time — as opposed to extraordinary time? I eventually made it through enough years of Catholic school to understand that this designation simply meant the church wasn’t in one of its periods of celebration or preparation (such as Easter, Advent, or Lent). I am sure that this is a gross oversimplification of the concept, but I’m not much of a practicing Catholic anymore, so I think it’s forgivable. 😉

I caught that phrase drifting through my mind earlier, apropos of nothing. It meandered in as I was going through my day. Ordinary time is still such a strange turn of phrase to me. How is time ordinary? So much happens. Right now, I am planning a wedding, I’m working on moving, I’m preparing to return to school as both a teacher and a student. All of that has its own uniqueness, it’s own particular extraordinariness. And yet – ordinary time.

If extraordinary time is time spent celebrating and honoring spiritual pursuits, then I suppose ordinary time is the space in between – for breathing, living, and our mundane experiences. Looking at the Kemetic calendar, it looks hard to find ordinary time. I haven’t counted, but I’d hazard a guess that there are less than thirty days without any officially notated festival – and even those days were remarked upon in some calendar, to be sure. How do we get ordinary time, the space to breathe and step away from the sacredness of ritual? Do we necessarily need to step away?

I think we do, and how we find that space is ultimately up to us. There are some who prefer to make a part of each day sacred, with daily prayer and ritual, simple offerings and quiet meditation. Then there are some who prefer to make their celebrations more widely spaced and elaborate, spending the time in between orchestrating and coordinating their worship. In those intervals, however, there is time for living — time for reading books, cooking dinner, laying in the sun, and vacuuming.

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