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Joyful Little Ordinary Things

In the Ordinary time between Christmas and Ash Wednesday, we are quite literally caught between seasons. And indeed, on our pretty little campus (which is currently a bit muted in splendor thanks to rapidly melting snow, though we need only look up to see a lovely blue sky) we are in the in-between time. Academically, we are no longer in the beginning of our semester—classes have “ramped up,” so to speak—but we are not as yet at either midterms or the busiest paper season. Socially, we have become accustomed to this semester’s schedules and the faces we see regularly. We’ve scheduled some regular meals and are learning again, as we always must, how and what to prioritize. And our seniors—myself included—are also in a funny in-between state, having one foot in our studies and the other foot preparing for graduation and life afterwards. And so a time which is said to be ordinary is actually a bit unsettling, as we try to regulate our futures in line with our pasts.

Indeed, we become uneasy as things change or evolve because we are, as human beings, attuned to the rhythm of life. It is why we are drawn to literature’s elegant narrative arcs, to music’s majestic ebb and flow, to arithmetic’s constancy and sophisticated resolutions. And so we mustn’t think of Ordinary time as merely the time between seasons. It is its own season, and it has its own constancies and harmonies. We are living our daily life with God, learning to hear Him in the here and now.

I am struck daily by the ordinary beauty of little things. To walk up the steps of the Grotto in the morning when it has just snowed, to step into the chapel when it’s empty and lit only by the sanctuary lamp’s red glow, to sit with a friend at midmorning and hear about her weekend, to see your professors’ children joyfully running about after Sunday Mass—these are ordinary, lovely things. Joy is not attached only to the momentous—we must let the quiet light of the ordinary permeate our lives. We must recall when it rains that Christ, too, descended to us from the heavens, and when it’s sunny that He is the light of the world. We must quiet our hearts to hear Him speak to us in the books and papers and projects and people and things which fill our lives, and we must rest in His extraordinary love.

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