February is not much of a month. It only has 28 days. It’s too far from Christmas to feel that spark of wonder, joy, and anticipation. It is too far from actual spring to allow us to begin to feel the hope, renewal, and warmth of the returning sun. It is the month when winter seems to be outstaying its welcome.
We spark it up a bit with Groundhog Day, Valentines Day, and the Super Bowl. But Groundhog Day really serves to make us long for April. Valentines Day is great for couples, but what of others not so romantically gifted? And the Super Bowl is only as good as the commercials and someone’s amazing nacho-guacamole-CHEESE (yes in all CAPS!)—dip. When was the last time you actually paid attention to the game?
This year, February does not even get to sport Mardi Gras…
So what good is it? What do we do with this nothing month?
Liturgically speaking, the Church names the Sundays in February “Ordinary Time.” And that actually gives us something to think about, and maybe even find a way into celebrating February. Think for a moment how much of your life could be
classified as “ordinary time.” Most of us spend most of our time doing ordinary things. We have our routines, our work, our family responsibilities, our regular habits and practices that occupy the vast majority of our lives. And most of us
are ordinary people living in ordinary homes in ordinary neighborhoods.
At times, we dismiss the ordinary. It’s like white paint. It’s like grits without the hot sauce or sausage. It’s like a piece of boiled chicken. It all might be useful, beneficial, and necessary, but…BLAH. And at times, we sometimes feel that way about our lives… blah.
But the Church fathers and mothers saw something else altogether as they led us to mark these Sundays as “Ordinary Time.” They wanted us to see the sanctity and holiness of even the ordinary—the things that actually make us who we are; the necessary work we have to do to sustain ourselves; and the routine encounters, engagements, and endeavors that add up to our days. They are holy because they are gifts from God—every bit as holy as the great days of Christmas or Easter or Pentecost. They are gifts of grace for us to use, to grow, and to become the people God made us to be. Each little thing adds together to make the quilt of our lives. Each little thing adds nuance, color, and pattern to our existence.
It is interesting that Jesus saw and acknowledged this—he saw even the offer of a cup of water to a thirsty child as momentously holy—a lived parable of grace. It is through ordinary kindness, interaction, and conversation that seeds of joy, hope, compassion, and promise are sown. No wonder Jesus spent time with ordinary people at their ordinary dinner tables. That was where the action was. He found it far more present there than in the high, holy places of Jerusalem. According to the gospels, he only went there a couple of times. No, he found and blessed the innate sacredness of ordinary human life.
Well, now—there’s something to consider in this most ordinary of months. Blessings on your pondering!
By Pastor Rob Watkins