Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ROBERT : According to one Divine Metronome . . . .

According to one Divine Metronome — the one known as the Calendar of the Church — the Ascension of Our Lord has now been observed and so we await our Brother’s return some day to judge the living and the dead. The Day of Pentecost has been celebrated and the Spirit has been given to us. And now we have entered the season of unbounding festivity known by the heart-stirring name Ordinary Time. Oh, ring the bells of joy, I say.
Ordinary Time is the name settled upon to refer to the twenty four to twenty nine weeks of the year for which the Church could not come up with any great celebrations for you and I to participate in.
The word ordinary and its derivatives occupy fourteen columns in the Oxford English Dictionary, a space larger than all of the words for all the other seasons of the Church year combined. ‘Let this be a sign unto you,’ I think to myself. Words like common, usual, unremarkable, settled, regular, simplest appear often in the fourteen columns. Ordinary Time, to use the words of one of the definitions in the OED, is ‘our customary fare.’
Of the 365 days given to us each year, the church has designated on average 55.6% of them as something less than festive, and not even suitable for something uplifting like putting ashes on our foreheads and remembering that we are but dust. Add together all of the days of the great seasonal celebrations of the church year, and there are still more ordinary days than festive ones.
‘Give us this day our daily bread — our customary fare,’ if you will. If we are to celebrate anything during Ordinary Time, we are largely on our own. The Church is happy to lead the celebratory charge from December until the end of April or so, and sometimes go as far as the end of May. ( Dependent, oddly enough, on the phases of the moon. ) After Pentecost, it is up to us.
The Church leads the parade for Christmas and the manifestation of Christ among us and spring and Easter and the coming of the Holy Spirit and we are assigned the dog days of summer, the back to school sales, and Labor Day. This year we also get an oil spill, floods that keep killing people, new rounds of ethnic cleansing on two continents, the noise of midterm elections, unemployment that is heartbreaking and the truth that not a single one of us has grown younger since this time last year.
According to the metronome of the calendar, our search for the balance between the borders and the margins of our lives, between the struggles with the bustle and the meaning of our daily rounds, between a way of marking time that will lead us to the Divine amid the clamor of the marching orders that would lead us somewhere else — all of that work is now up to us.
I never miss the festal parade at Easter, and I shall be beside you as always in the dark with my candles come Advent.
But just now, whether or not the deep rhythms of the Story are alive and ticking in me in late June is the real question, I am afraid. And I must answer it myself.
Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord, have mercy.