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A litany of thanks for ordinary time

January 24, 2019

This morning I followed an internet rabbit trail leading to an account of startling and sobering diagnosis of a stranger’s child. From a suggested blog on my feed reader to an ominous sounding “why I’ve been away” post to a devastating Instagram account.

In the span of a half dozen clicks I’d happened upon a parent’s worst nightmare. My heart clenched painfully reading this mother’s account, keening inwardly and instinctively for the sweet face on the screen.

It’s a harsh climate we’re living in right now. Spiritually, politically, even outside my window cold, hard snow pellets – not flakes – are pinging off the back patio and accumulating in grainy piles atop dirty, frozen piles leftover from last week’s storm. It’s a hard time to look around and see the goodness in people, especially if your face has spent any amount of time behind a screen recently.

I set down my phone and looked into the upturned faces of two preschoolers, one sickly and miserable with the umpteenth virus of the season and one just … three. With all the toddler angst and death defying curiosity that seems to arrive hand in glove with the third year of life.

Fueled by a surge of gratitude for this ordinary day, I stooped to grab a stainless steel mixing bowl and ducked out the door into the freezing yard for a quick procurement of snow. Scooping (bare) handfuls of the fresh stuff into my bowl while two sets of eyes popped in surprise, I hustled back indoors with fingers burning from the cold and a massive bowl of messiness.

I’ll just mop the floor once it melts all over the place I told myself, setting the bowl down on the dirty, painted linoleum and handing out plastic plates, spoons, and gloves. It did make a mess. But it also made them really, really happy for 7 minutes.

For quiet mornings filled with fresh coffee and new fallen snow, I give thanks.

For kids who, while sick, are not that sick, who sleep safely in their own beds night after night, well enough to stay home with us and too young to want to be elsewhere, I give thanks.

For a husband who loves me and comes home every night with enough energy and compassion to jump right into the fray of the most frenetic hour of our day, I give thanks

For money to buy groceries, however much it seems to burn through our checking account, transforming rapidly into granola bars and oatmeal and hot dogs, I give thanks.

For a warm, safe house, I give thanks.

For knowing that an unborn human being is still a human being, I give thanks.

For a good and holy school where my children’s minds are being enlightened and not indoctrinated, I give thanks.

For a larger extended family that supports and accompanies us, I give thanks.

For a parish with holy priests, regular confession hours, and dozens of Mass times a week, I give thanks.

For quiet nights at home, bedtimes that culminate by 9 pm, homemade cocktails shaken up and enjoyed side by side on the couch, and a cat that almost always misses the carpet with her hairballs, I give thanks.

For piles of clean laundry to drape across healthy little bodies, I give thanks.

For shoes without holes, tiny little boy jeans with lots of holes, and piles of crayons and scribbled “masterpieces” strategically scattered everywhere for me to admire, sweep up, and throw promptly into the garbage (#minimalism) (#bygarbageimeanrecycling), I give thanks.

Ordinary time can feel sober and drab in the absence of Big, Grand Celebrations, and quiet seasons of life can seem bleached of all excitement and passion. But the divine is hiding in these simple and most insignificant of days. I’m sure of it. I’m sure there is a reason why most of Jesus’ time here on earth is hidden from our knowledge, intentionally obscured by His decision to come here then, and not now.

Jesus had no platform, He had relationships. Though He was God, He did not have an elite blue check.

Why don’t we know what Jesus did at home in Nazareth day in and day out? Why did He obscure from us His ordinary time? Could it be that there is something holy and necessary about hiddenness and not simply that it wasn’t worth retelling, wasn’t useful?

Could the Son of God have done so with intention? Could the Son of God have done anything without intention? Jesus, by Your hidden life at Nazareth, redeem and sanctify these ordinary days.

 

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10 Comments

  • Reply Dan January 24, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    For the reminder that gratitude is a verb as well, I give thanks. Maybe the hidden holiness of ordinary time consists of simply being an expression of our gratitude in all things. To do the good simply, for goodness sake. Thank you for what you do from a SAHD.

  • Reply Catherine January 24, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    I am blown away by your beautiful words and how they always seem to come on exactly the day I need to read them. I am so very grateful that I found your blog. Thank you.

    • Reply doris January 26, 2019 at 5:50 am

      As a mom of 4 (my kids are 22, 20 17 and 10), I can completely relate to what you are saying with the first 3 and my last little surprise:) I am enjoying my last baby more than the first 3 because I was so busy with them and working full time…By your writing this article, I am inspired to purposefully look for the joy in everyday life for there is great joy in a seemingly mundane life and there should be great gratitude alongside it

  • Reply Colleen January 25, 2019 at 6:47 am

    Thank you Jenny. Your words always seem to come at just the right time. If you’re looking for a good book for ordinary time, check out Sr. Ann Shield’s book Deeper Conversion: Extraordinary Grace for Ordinary Time.

  • Reply MW January 25, 2019 at 8:44 am

    I give thanks for your inspired words!

  • Reply Becky January 25, 2019 at 9:08 am

    Beautiful as always. You never cease to inspire. “Jesus had no platform. He had relationships.” So good.

  • Reply Christine January 25, 2019 at 9:25 am

    I loved this! My word for the year is “grateful,” and I could not have read a better reminder of it today. Thank you!

  • Reply jeanette January 25, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    I urge you to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and what it has to say about the hidden life of Jesus Christ. I think you will find it very illuminating to read about what perspective the Church offers in response to natural curiosity about the daily life of Jesus. Find this in the section on “The Profession of Faith”, Chapter 2 “I Believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God”, Article 3 “He Was Conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit, and Born of the Virgin Mary”, beginning at Paragraph 3 “The Mysteries of Christ’s Life”–begin at CCC512 and read all the way through to CCC534. You can find it at:
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a3p3.htm

    The crux of what we should focus on is found in this particular point in
    CCC514:
    Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure in the Gospels. Almost nothing is said about his hidden life at Nazareth, and even a great part of his public life is not recounted. What is written in the Gospels was set down there “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”

    Certainly it is natural to have curiosity, but it really doesn’t have any purpose for Jesus to answer that curiosity. One of the things that is always so clear when reading the Bible is not that there are things left out so much as that what is there has real purpose and supports the fullness of truth that we seek. All writers can really appreciate the skill it takes to hone in on what is important when writing. It is so easy to be verbose! : )

  • Reply Kathleen January 25, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    Beautiful! A good friend is enduring the heavy burden of a sweet child with Leukemia. This diagnosis has helped me be so so aware of the beauty of ordinary days even the hard ordinary days because God sometimes allows his beloved children some pretty extraordinary crosses. Great post, Jenny!

  • Reply Annette January 27, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    For you, Jenny, who follow God with the Church’s teaching and keeps it real in motherhood, I give thanks.

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