It’s a curious thing, keeping ordinary time these last two years. In some respects everything is very ordinary. We don’t leave our homes very much; each day feels much like the previous one; we see the same people, the same walls, the same garden beds. Yet in other ways nothing is ordinary. We long for a return to “normal”, and find ourselves frequently disoriented when life resumes normality for a time and then changes again. We book holidays only to cancel them, make birthday party plans only to send out the message to friends and family that the party cannot go ahead. I’ve coined the phrase “lockdown whiplash” (I’m sure others have used it too) to describe the startling, yanking dislocation that occurs when we keep snapping in and out of lockdown restrictions. Everything is ordinary; nothing is.
How do we find our bearings in this time? One of the comforts I have found is in watching the seasons change. Today I spied our first rose after the big winter prune, peeking like a sunset through the plum blossoms. The springstars are out sparkling softly all through the garden bed. Soon the peach, apple and quince will blossom too. Time is passing even if it feels that we are not moving.
But God’s time, I am reminded, is not our time. The slowness of ordinary time gives way to the expectation of Advent. And what happens year by year in the church calendar is happening cosmically in our hearts with ever growing truth. There were four hundred years between prophecies before Jesus came, yet creation was still preparing the way, the Roman Empire still waking up and readying itself to pave those roads that Jesus and Paul would walk.
What, I wonder, is this ordinary/extraordinary time growing in us? What is it growing in you? What is it growing in me? The signs may not be as clear as the rose I saw today, but they will be more certain, more secure, because the God doing this work never fails, and He always finishes what He starts.