I’m sitting at breakfast with Nick and Penny. Each of us is looking at a screen. I’m sipping on a black cup of coffee. There was a time when I would have thought this was a pathetic scene as in, “Look at us, so addicted to media and disconnected from one another that we can’t even watch the same show.” Today, I’m not so critical. I think this is a product of my recent mobilization, where I spent nearly four months in Guatemala with two guys doing civil affairs work. We spent hours upon hours together in a van, eating meals, sitting in front of our computers, surfing the web on our phones. Even though we weren’t always talking or entertaining one another, we were still together. The hours, days, and months still counted. As such, my morning with Nick and Penny still counts, screens and all.
I’m reading this book, The Liturgy of the Ordinary, which is in essence a manifesto in praise of ordinary life. This book has introduced me to the Liturgical Calendar, which has introduced me to the concept of Ordinary Time. In addition to the big seasons that I was already familiar with (i.e. Lent, Advent), Ordinary Time is new to me, and it takes up most of the year. Ordinary Time represents months of white space and nothingness.
When I first returned home from my mobilization I was at teenage-level angst and turmoil over the boredom of regular life. I realize now that my coming home involved a downshift in my mind back to a place of quiet, ordinary activity. Ordinary Time. It’s natural to mourn the loss of the exciting, constant changes and stimuli of a mobilization. Especially now with social isolation in effect, the whole world is mourning the loss of having places to go and people to see. But a secure person knows that life ebbs and flows between the exciting and the ordinary. I think the most successful, contented, and satisfied people are good at doing both, the exciting and the boring.