3 simple ways to celebrate Ordinary Time

It’s no secret that I love Ordinary Time.

I’ve written about it here and here. (And pretty much everywhere here.)

As time goes on, I find that the seasons I love the most in the liturgical year? They aren’t the high holy feasts, but the ordinary ones.

How to celebrate Ordinary Time - Mothering SpiritSummer is a perfect example. This delicious, warm season can slip by us in our quest for the extraordinary – the perfect vacation, the crossed-off bucket list, the countdown to Labor Day.

Because when we work too hard to make the most of any certain season, we sometimes let the ordinary beauty pass us by.

So here are three easy ways to celebrate Ordinary Time this summer:

1. Watch the sky.

See the sunrise if you wake with the dawn. Notice the sunset once the world settles in to sleep. Summer holds the longest days, and we’re made to notice them.

Scripture often speaks of sunrise and sunset as sacred times:

From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised. (Psalm 113:3)

When we tune into the simple, sacred rhythms of creation around us, we can make the choice to delight in the spaciousness of summer. I call this “the spiritual practice of summering”:

Of longer days to wait and watch and listen. Of lingering light to sense the presence of the God who waits for us to slow down. Of Sabbath time to revel in the sultry days that beckon for rest.

I find that when I show up and witness the day’s dawning or setting, even for a few moments from a window or a quick step outside into the warm breeze, the day feels whole and holy.

Showing up to the sky helps me remember the blessing of God’s ordinary time.

2. Take a second look at the ordinary activities you do every day.

Washing dishes? Bathing a baby? Hanging the laundry? Making dinner?

Sacramental moments, every one. If you open your eyes a bit wider to see them.

So many saints discovered this secret to the spiritual life – that the mundane and dirty work is shot through with the Holy Spirit.

Today, choose one everyday action: a chore that grates at you or a task you’ve been putting off. Tomorrow, try to do it as prayer. Slowly, mindfully, sacrificially.

See what happens when you open yourself to a deeper awareness of God’s presence with you. Right now in the ordinary moments of your life.

3. Reflect on the “lost years of Jesus,” the decades that didn’t make it into the Gospels.

When Jesus began his public ministry, he had years of ordinary living behind him. For thirty years he lived and worked and loved his friends and family. His life was full of the ordinary.

How are your own ordinary years shaping you?

Maybe you rise with kids before dawn and drag yourself back to bed after the housework is done. Maybe you commute on the early train and make it home in time to catch your son’s soccer game. Maybe you are in the blurry, busy years of mid-life, too.

Annie Dillard wisely wrote that “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Where is the hidden holy in your own?

What are your favorite ways to celebrate Ordinary Time?

9 thoughts on “3 simple ways to celebrate Ordinary Time

    1. Isn’t that such a cool thought, to wonder what it might have been like during all those years we don’t know about? I like to think that all of Jesus’ “fullness of humanity” might have come from what he experienced and learned and saw during those times…

  1. Thank you for this reflection! Point no. 2 resonates. I love doing the dishes. It always makes me think of my mom or parties or good meals. It’s relaxing to me. And it’s become even more sacred since I was in college. One of my professors told of a mystic (it might have been Merton) who said, “When you’re doing the dishes, do the dishes.” In other words, be there, present, to the washing and the cleaning. Focus on the task before you with intention.

    Now if only I could transfer that thought to vacuuming. Perhaps I’ll try it this evening. Again, thank you.

    1. Yes!! I try to think about this, too: Just do the dishes. Don’t do the thousand other things; do this holy one set before you. Thank you for this.

  2. I love this! I just found you and have spent the last few days combing your archives. Such truly lovely food for thought. Thank you for sharing it all! Several of your reflections made it into our baptism class tonight.

    I’ve been putting off the laundry, so number two is my work for tomorrow.

    1. Thank you for your lovely, uplifting words, Lacey! I’m delighted to hear that you were able to share some of this with your baptism class tonight. (And I just tackled Mt. Laundry here, too – so I hear you there.) 😉

  3. I’ve been trying to incorporate John O’Donohue’s blessing For Work into my daily tasks. I tend to think of these tasks as chores that must be endured or grumbled through rather than work that can be blessed by soul.
    “May the light of your soul bless your work with love and warmth of heart.
    May you see in what you do the beauty of your soul. . . .”
    I have a feeling that this could make a huge difference.
    I loved this sweet reminder that you shared. Thank you.

    1. Jessica, thank you so much for stopping here and sharing your thoughts. A kindred spirit – John O’Donohue is one of my favorites, and I have that same blessing for work up on the wall of my office! It does make a huge difference, to bless whatever work is ours. Thank you.

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