There are many ways to mark the passing of a year. The cycle of the seasons, each beautiful in its own way, is the common backdrop of our lives. Businesses are run on the fiscal year, from July 1 to June 30. And no matter how long we have been out of school, the start of the academic year in September brings a sense of new beginnings, and its end in June makes us all feel a little giddy with thoughts of leisure and vacation.
The liturgical year is another way to note the passing of time. It begins in Advent, moves through the great festivals of Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost, and ends on Christ the King Sunday at the end of November. It begins again the following week with Advent, in an endless cycle of celebration and remembrance. Each liturgical season has its own color: blue for Advent, white for Christmas and Easter, purple for Lent, red for Pentecost. But what happens between the special festivals of the church? That season is “ordinary time”, and this year it begins on June 6.
Normally there isn’t much to say about ordinary time. There is nothing dramatic or exciting happening, it just is. But how glad I am to be approaching ordinary time now! After a most un-ordinary year, I’m taking great pleasure in the simple unfolding of small pleasures: hugging my children and grandchildren, getting together with friends, eating in a restaurant. What a joy it is to be slowly returning to everyday rhythms. This last year has taught me that such ordinary events are the infinitely rewarding core of life. How appropriate it is, then, that the liturgical color for ordinary time is the green of nature itself!
I am reminded of the Shaker song “Simple Gifts” Although it was written to reflect particular Shaker theology, there is also a universality to the text that speaks to me strongly:
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be
And when you find yourself in the place just right
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight
May we all find ourselves in that valley!