3: the regular or customary condition or course of things
Yesterday was a perfectly ordinary day. It started with a brief morning walk and included mundane tasks like laundry, grocery shopping and changing the sheets on beds. But it also offered an unhurried span of time to teach and learn, to listen to classical music over lunch, to go for a walk and collect colorful autumn leaves. The day left me grateful and reminded me why I like homeschooling. It's been easy to forget the blessings of homeschooling while moving - there has been so much to do that teaching has felt like one more burden to bear. It didn't feel that way yesterday: it felt like a gift.
In the church calendar we are in the thick of Ordinary Time - that space between Pentecost and Advent when we live out the lessons learned from Christ's birth, the light we see during Epiphany, the things we lose and gain during Lent and Easter. For me, this is the most challenging time in the church calendar. There's none of the waiting with bated breath for the birth of the Christ child, none of the daily reminders of Lent to remember my faith by doing or not doing something. Apparently, I can live my faith life quite well in 40 day increments. It's when I'm expected to carry on for several months uninterrupted that I long for something to pull me out of the ordinary and shake me up a bit.
Yet I believe our faith is best lived ordinarily. What we do during our ordinary moments speaks volumes about who we are and what our hearts are tuned to. When I look back on my life, I want the ebb and flow of my everyday actions to be what people remember - not a few peaks and valleys where I was at my best or worst. I want my ordinary life to be a worthy offering, not an afterthought.
As we walked together yesterday afternoon gathering leaves, I told B and K what A shared with me two years ago when she took botany: when a leaf changes colors in the fall, it's not becoming that color for the first time. The color we see is actually the color the leaf has been all along, it's just been masked by chlorophyll. I told them I think our lives are like that, too. That when we are dying (as the autumn leaves are), we get to see what we're really made of - what vibrant colors lie just beneath the surface.
The truth of it is that we are all, minute by minute, dying. And these ordinary days do reveal something about the colors that compose us. The way I buy bagels because they are A's favorite thing for breakfast? A color of who I am as a mom. The blessings I've written for their bedrooms? They show you my heart for my daughters and our home. The sharp tone of voice I use with my children when I am mentally or physically exhausted? Also telling you who I am, showing one of the veins running through this particular leaf.
I'd like to imagine that, unlike leaves, we don't have to wait until the very end to see the vibrancy of our beings. If I'm willing to let go of who I think I am and embrace what I see revealed of myself through my heart and actions, I'll get glimpses of gold, bronze, magenta, russet.
I want to embrace the sacredness of the ordinary. I think that means seeing all of the things I do - whether sweeping a floor, wiping down a counter or teaching how to write an equation - as both an offering from me to God and an opportunity for me to see myself more clearly. I want to not resist the ordinary for its supposed dullness, but embrace it for the way it offers me opportunity to work out exactly who I am and what I am meant to be doing.
I want my one ordinary life to be extraordinary not because of what I do, but because of the way I inhabit it, the way I see it and claim it for what it is.