A family member recently remarked to me that now that New Year’s celebrations are over, and both Christmas and seasonal fall activities are over, it’s harder to imagine getting back to the daily routine. Here in the northeast it is cold and gray everywhere: gray in the sky, gray in city buildings, and gray roads and sidewalks when the ground is bare of snow. The way that my relative describes it sounds neither like consolation nor desolation, but more like a feeling that one is “neither here nor there” seasonally. He’s experiencing Ordinary Time with a hefty dose of neutrality over colorfulness.
My own environmental solution for years has been to leave up the interior Christmas lights that hang in our dining room and to light my battery-powered candles every night when the sun sets. We need a little light and cheer in the ordinary times as well as during the holidays when the displays are more exuberant.
We can also think about the Examen in Ordinary Time as a way of looking for the light in our past day. Indeed, St. Ignatius often counseled to ask for light. For me this is linked back to St. Augustine’s idea of God as the one who illuminates our knowledge; he thought that we needed some supernatural assistance in the course of our thinking.
Indeed, when I pray the Examen, I often need God to help me with my very prayer. Perhaps when sitting in prayer, I feel a quiet sense of warmth and peace that comes when I offer gratitude for an unexpected encounter with a friend. Maybe I arrive at the time of prayer tired or thinking about too many things to notice where God has been present, and then suddenly I am reminded of how pretty the pink-hued sunrise was when my husband and I walked the dog—divine light pointing out earthly light.
Ordinary Time has its moments, too, precisely because it is ordinary. The intense activity of travel to see family, sumptuous meals, and lots of social gatherings calms to a more ordinary daily routine. But God is present in the routine too. We just need to take the time to look for God and allow God to look for the light with us as we pray.
Where have you found moments of light in Ordinary Time?