Light in Ordinary Time

lightbulb - aha moment - photo by Artur Matosyan on Unsplash

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?

Photo by Artur Matosyan on Unsplash.

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Marina Berzins McCoy
Marina Berzins McCoy is a professor at Boston College, where she teaches philosophy and in the BC PULSE service-learning program. She is the author of The Ignatian Guide to Forgiveness and Wounded Heroes: Vulnerability as a Virtue in Ancient Greek Philosophy. She and her husband are the parents to two young adults and live in the Boston area.


  1. Thanks Marina. Taking time to see where God is toiling to bring a ray of hope in the lives of his beloved creation is a massive grace.

  2. Marina,
    Wonderful insights, thank you. The transition from the hopeful Joy of the birth of Jesus and moving into ordinary time can be abrupt. It is always a bit jarring to see Christmas trees lying on the curb in front of neighbors’ houses a few days after Christmas and lights coming down as well.

    My wife and I try to prolong that sense of Joy and Promise by moving our tree to our back patio where we continue to enjoy its beauty and sparkling white lights for a longer time. Birds come to perch in the tree and feed on the seeds we leave for them during this very cold time of year.
    In today’s troubled world of ordinary time – where Joy and Hope seem to be in short supply, perhaps a few more days of celebrating God’s gift of his Son – will inspire.

  3. After the many weeks of distraction in November and December, I look forward to getting back to the ordinary and the comfort of the routine. I just finished my daily Examem, gateful for the return of ordinary.


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