Michelle Abernathy, artist and regular contributor to the Homely Hours, wrote a reflection upon Ordinary Time and the rhythm of our liturgical seasons. “Ordinary Time” refers to the days between Epiphany and Lent and then between Trinity and Advent.
Last week, we took down our Christmas lights and garlands. We put away ornaments filled with past years’ memories. We packaged our manger scenes safely away. We boxed and swept and tidied and mopped. In a few short hours, we had put away what we’d spent the previous seven weeks intentionally setting out. We packed away all that had reminded us of the darkness and waiting of Advent, drawn our hearts towards the joy and mystery of Christmas, and finally led us to celebrate and rejoice in the presentation of our King to all the world in Epiphany.
And now I’m left, looking at a pile of Canaan Fir needles cast off from the tree dumped by the roadside, whose very wood reminds me of what is to come. The darkest and most brilliant time of the Christian year is ahead— leading right to the cross.
But for now, I rest in this time that is ordinary. Our home returns to its normal (frequently messy) state. I can relax a little from all the extra intentions to which we devote ourselves during the more mysterious seasons. For now, we can just be. Perhaps this is my favorite part about living out the church year— that the seasons change at just the right time. As I start to become wearied by the extra focus of a season, that season is already waning. So, for a time, I rest. As did John, I can just rest my head upon Jesus’ breast as we share bread and enjoy the company of our dearests. For a while, at least. Until the next season comes, at just the right time.
Just The Right Time: A Liturgy of Seasons
Each season ends at just the right time.
Just when I tire of heat, the days begin to shorten,
And then with longing I await the calm stillness
Which is overtaken, at the right moment, by eternal joy.
And when the feasting and joy is exhausted,
Again with relief I find the ushering in of ordinary time.
And then we settle in for the long cold.
The beauty of winter and solemnity astound me
Until I can bear no more,
And the dark cold gives way to crocus and daffodil and joy.
The flowers and joy quickly turn into rains
First cold then warm, quenching the thirst of freshly tilled earth.
Once again, the celebration becomes too much, and the flowers fade.
I long for the ordinary passing of time.
The vestments turn green as the radiant trees unfold in glory.
My whole being rests in the quiet waiting for the harvest.
The solemn waiting gives way to arduous, long hot days
That leave me anxious, again, for stillness.
Each transition finds me prepared, ready to move forth
At just the right time.