Today is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, one of the few remaining commonplace days before the holiday hubbub begins.
Nothing much captured my attention at church this morning—no song I love, none of my favorite verses or stories. There were a couple of moments of humor when one of the elders forgot his lines in a skit and when the guest minister dropped his sermon in a flurry of paper that floated to the floor. Both were good-natured about their gaffs.
Just an ordinary day, enjoyed in the company of friends who share my faith.
My husband and I came home and started on the laundry. He helped me clean out two kitchen cabinets that I’ve been meaning for months to rearrange in a way that makes more sense.
Then my husband left to play soccer with his teammates who are ten years younger—something he plans to continue as an ordinary part of his life for as long as he can.
I sat down to watch football and write this blog. When my husband gets home, we’ll go for a long walk before we start dinner.
Just an ordinary day—sort of like the kind when one of my friends writes on social media, “I just ate a PB&J sandwich.”
But after weeks of anxiety about leaders who insisted on conflict instead of concord, where getting the most air time seemed more important than doing the mundane business of the people, I’m happy for a day of routine when the news seems more inclined to offer the facts and maybe even a story about what’s good about humanity.
We live in a world where the media, in an effort to boost ratings, fills our lives with stories of anger and tumult. Politicians rise and fall in an epic clash of the titans, where the loudest and most unreasonable voices seem to garner the attention we should be giving to those who are ethical, honorable, and devoted to quietly grappling together for the common good.
Ordinary Time has never been more important. We must remind ourselves daily that what we see and read isn’t real life. Fiction bestsellers tell us that relationships are more about mind-blowing sex than about love and devotion and kindness. And even “reality television” is scripted to maximize the drama and the ugliness in people who can make money by being ever more outrageous.
We have little to guide us in finding happiness in the ordinary. Even the great stories of literature—those that stand the test of time—demand a dramatic arc: conflict, rising action, climax, resolution. And rarely do they end in happiness or joy.
Even the stories of our holy texts tell only about the dramatic moments in the life of Christ, not those unremarkable days when he laughed or played or did nothing of note. In fact, the Gospel of John ends with this admission:
But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
So as we begin this 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, I want our leaders to remember that they are ordinary people entrusted to do the ordinary work of government. For over 200 years, legislators whose names we’ve forgotten have aimed to serve the people rather than leave a legacy of epic proportions. Like ordinary citizens, they got out of bed, ate breakfast, and commuted to work. In the course of the day, they worked hard, compromised, and did their best to ensure the functionality of our democracy.
Perhaps our country might do better if the only thing John Boehner could say to the media between now and the next deadline is this: “I ate a sandwich with Nancy Pelosi today at lunch.”
Wouldn’t that be interesting?
So tell me a story of Ordinary Time.