In my beloved Episcopal church, we have the concept of “ordinary time.” The banal meaning of “ordinary time” is, well, what it isn’t. It isn’t a season, like Christmas. Or Advent. Or Lent. Yet, the color of poor old “defined by what it is not” ordinary time is green – the color of hope, of growth, of zestful life – the life we are leading when we are not being intentional about what, precisely, we are doing. So, perhaps, 99% of our life?
What I’ve learned about ordinary time:
- Ordinary time is too short to spend it trying to judge who is in and who is out. The only call we have is to love our neighbor as ourselves – no exceptions noted. Segmenting by arbitrary divisions – sexual orientation, religion, political party, or any other silly structure we impose between “us” and “them” – dishonors our limited time. Just love. Judgment is the province of someone else – be glad.
- Running through sprinklers is just as much fun when you’re over 40, as are water parks and roller coasters. Swinging Statue is a bit of a stretch, though, and prank calls are no longer advisable in the era of caller i.d.
- Your ability to wholeheartedly commit yourself to someone else, once an adult, is sacred and ordinary. Your partner’s ability or lack thereof is not under your control.
- In the early days of marriage, the romance of newly wedded bliss, the excitement of being together each and every night, will be tempered somewhat once you discover that neither of you will ever snore *less* than you currently do. Adjust.
- Ordinary new parenthood, that trusting nuzzling snuggle of a sweet-smelling, sleeping new baby, will bring the realization that even though you thought you’d loved before, you have never experienced such powerfully tender love, nor such knee-trembling fear, as that introduced by parenthood.
- The fiercely joyful hug of a homesick boy of any age when you pick him up from ordinary summer camp will make up for every dirty sock and unidentifiable piece of mummified food you’ve ever found, in each and every bizarre location.
- The only two ordinary, harmonious adult states to be in are either happily committed to someone or happily single. If you are in a relationship, yet not happily committed, there may be a tough and worthwhile path to get there. If that path is not eventually apparent, or the two of you are not on the same journey, then your path may be that of happily single, at least for now and perhaps for always. The certain blessing: you will be okay, and there will always be love in your life.
- The reason our parents were not more forthcoming about ordinary middle-aged marriage is that, done well, it is more passionate, more honest and infinitely more fun than one’s children want to know. Two grown-ups, accepting of each other’s imperfections, tending their mutual spark with daily care and mischief, can develop a spectacular relationship and maintain and grow a passionate commitment unthinkable in younger years when you are needlessly concerned with what other people think, ego, and whatever other flotsam and jetsam that interferes with what really matters.
- Ordinary, daily caretaking, of parents, children, spouses and partners, the mundane and sometimes infuriating responsibility for details, is an unimaginable blessing you might not value until the privilege is — abruptly or gradually — removed.
- Ordinary time passes entirely too quickly. Savor. Appreciate. Love. And revel.