The Meaning of Ordinary

434720_10760423The last of our holiday visitors departed last weekend, the Christmas decorations are stored for another year, and normal routines are more or less being reinstated in our home as January’s shiny newness is already wearing duller. Ordinary days are here again.

I deliberately plunged myself under a fountain of good reading at Christmas, and I’m now finding, with chagrin, that I have started, with equal measures of earnestness, no less than nine fantastic books which I’m sure to neglect now that school and work press in like the cold around our home. Not only that, my infant son has learned how to roll across a room, far earlier than I ever imagined, and in the midst of my joy over his accomplishment, I am also tasting a bit of grief. I’ll need to embrace a new level of vigilance to guard and keep him, which doesn’t happen without a bit of personal cost. (The valuation of the currency of naptime continues skyward around here.)

It all gives way; we know the drill. The holidays pass. The bookmarks stand like forgotten sentries in the first hopeful pages of those nine books, awaiting their call to duty which might not come soon. By the grace of God, a rolling baby becomes a crawling baby, and a mother must relearn to fly, keeping new dangers out of reach. Time marches on, and so must we.

The ordinary days are here, and we count them as we live them. For Christians who mark their days with the help of the church calendar, an increasingly counter-cultural practice (indeed, even a sanity-keeping tool), ordinary means “counted,” as in, the ordinal numbers. “So-many days after Epiphany” marks a kind of march away from the fun and into the grind. The ordinal times feel ordinary, as in duller, more plain. But they can be as extraordinary as any other, just as any just vocation–surrendered to God and exercised in his presence–can be a holy one. The days are ordinary; we live them one by one.

Here, at Missio, we approach faith, vocation, and culture through the lens of the church calendar. In 2015, we will endeavor to make that connection even more explicit for our readers. This task has nothing to do with being “high church,” but rather with developing and disciplining our imaginations. Time marches on, and we are apt to forget, to grow dull, and to come to see time as plainly as the little white boxes of a calendar on a wall. We need to see time through thicker, sharper, more faith-attuned lenses than our workaday lives naturally permit. We need time-tested, church-given tools to enrich our imaginations, as well, for the sake of our vocations and loving commitments, some of which are unflaggingly ordinary and hidden, but are also, at all times, shockingly critical to the tasks of our common life and eternity.

Ordinary days are here, but they are not at all ordinary.


Photo: Yalcin Eren

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