Walk into the comfort of my daughter’s cozy kitchen and you’ll be greeted by a hand-lettered chalkboard saying, "Normal Day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.” Kristal has a way of bringing hospitality, beauty, and grace into every encounter.
Now that all the Christmas decorations are tucked away for another year and folks have returned to work and school, it feels like a return to normal. The church has a fitting name for this season of normal, Ordinary Time. We are now officially between the seasons of Christmas and Easter which begins, of course, with the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 6th. This year we get nearly two months of Ordinary Time, starting now. Yay! Two months to grow in awareness and appreciation. Let this be my new year resolution, to be aware of the treasure of the ordinary.
When I was a teen, Thornton Wilder’s "Our Town,” was a popular presentation for high school productions. In it, a deceased young mother, Emily, is allowed to return to earth to observe one day of her life, her 12th birthday. She delights in the rediscovery of every childhood joy and acquaintance.
"Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you!”
But her initial joy is replaced by sadness as she realizes how little she or anyone else appreciates the ordinariness of that day. She laments to the stage manager, another character in the play,
"Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?”
He replies, "No. The saints and poets, maybe. They do some.”
Then let us be saints, poets, and mystics!—not too small an ambition for the new year, or at least the first two months of a new year. Not too big an ambition either. If Jesus’ coming to live among us means anything, it means that he shared in our ordinary human life. He chose to spend most of his life, 30 years of it living the same kind of ordinary existence that we do.
That big gap in the Gospels, the one from the Nativity to his adulthood, those were years Jesus lived an ordinary life. Like us. Luke gives us that one tantalizing scene of Jesus in the temple at age 12, but the rest of those 30 years are left to our imagining. 2000 years ago, did Jesus really have a life like ours? ...