The Extraordinary of the OrdinaryAugust 12th, 2013
I’ve had the privilege this summer of doing some traveling – to the Outer Banks of NC, southwestern Illinois, and the hills of Maryland – and in the midst of that to visit numerous other parishes for Mass. It’s always cool to see what other congregations and dioceses are doing, and how they put their own unique spin on the liturgy. Recently too, Dayton celebrated their annual Celtic festival, which includes a Gaelic Mass downtown under the big Riverscape tent. As always this year it drew hundreds to celebrate the Eucharist together in a new and invigorating venue and language. What a great way to gather Catholics together from across the city.
For sure time away – from life or our parish – gives us a chance to look at that same ordinary life in a new way. It can be a time of renewal, of growth, of readjusting beliefs, opinions, and goals, meeting new people, encountering new ideas.
In many ways it’s rather like the difference between last summer and this one. We endured last year (especially living without a/c!). Everything dried up, the fruit and berry harvest was minimal, as were the beans and corn. It seemed I was constantly watering gardens and cattle.
But that time away from the usual Ohio bounty has allowed me to appreciate and celebrate this year that much more. The gardens are amazing! The fruit trees are loaded – I froze oodles of cherries, and we’ve already begun making cider and applesauce. Pickles out our ears, and gotta keep your eyes on those zucchini, for sure, for they become monsters overnight.
As I ride my bike at sunset between fields of seven-foot corn to our neighbor’s farm to feed our dairy goats (the steers were harassing them too much in our own pasture), the sense of gratitude for the glorious beautiful simplicity of this summer life can overwhelm. We may not have mountains or oceans to enjoy, but life here, where we are, has its own beauty if we only have eyes to see.
Same thing in our parishes’ celebration of the Eucharist. One may consider it just the “same old, same old,” yet here in the midst of the ordinary-every- day something extraordinary is going on. God recreates the ultimate meaning of life, here with the usual run-of-the-mill congregation that we are, despite our failings, shortcomings, lackadaisical interest. Every time, every day, we have the opportunity to participate in the act of co-creation with the divine, in our work, in our relationships, in the Eucharist. How wild is that?
Time away is wonderful; it’s a precious gift for which to be quite grateful. But our life today, in all its complexity and stress or possibly boring moments, also is pretty darn extraordinary, for God is in the midst of it all, somehow giving us the opportunity to sanctify it. It is ALL gift. Do you have the eyes to see, the ears to hear this?
I hope so. So does God.
Photo credit: S. Sack photo. Used with permission.