Ordinary (ordered) time is upon us and summer has begun for our family. School is out. Pentecost is past and all of the planning, fasting and celebrating that happens between advent and the end of Easter is through. A long stretch of seemingly unordered time lies before us.
There is always a sense of pause as we transition into this new stretch of time. And while I know I’ll be itching to break out advent decorations and Christmas books late this fall, for now, I am very content to have packed away the Easter tree and the Pentecost banners. I’m excited to enter this second half of the church year and see the green Sundays stretching out before us. I am so very ready to focus on slow growth.
There is a sense of watchfulness to such growth. In spring and summer I wonder through my small garden daily and watch the miracle of life. That small shriveled pea seeds become an unruly bush producing pod after pod to be picked and eaten by small fingers continually amazes me. And when I turn my gaze to those small fingers and look at my four young boys I am equally in awe of their growth.
It is easy at this point to gaze with simple awe at these young ones, but good watching has less to do with sentimentality than with discerning and knowing the other. Watching is about discerning needs and seeing the obstacles to the sort of growth we desire. I’m so looking forward to long days of summer to truly watch my boys and my garden grow.
But of course, I do not walk the garden and assume that this miracle of good growth will happen entirely on its own. Watching is only the first step, and in turn I attempt to tend the garden. I tend the boys. I tend to my own growth. The needs must be met and the obstacles must be removed. This summer more than ever before tending has begun with lists, lots of lists. There is a garden list and map. There is a list of books to read (for each member of the family). There are lists for what food will nourish us.
There are lists of who will prepare the food. There are lists of daily tasks for each family member, for the weeds must be pulled and the chickens must be fed. There is a list with a few larger goals for our family. And, of course making the lists is the simpler part, for each list must then be done with grace and regularity (though also with flexibility) if we are to experience real growth. Yes, I watch and I tend.
And most days in this long stretch of ordinary time are truly ordinary. There is a meaning and a purpose behind each day and on occasion there are certainly extra(ordinary) moments, but most of the time is truly ordinary. Most moments are filled with work and slow growth and sometimes a fussy toddler or sibling squabbles. This is not primarily a time of celebration but a time of slowing down. This is a time for stories, fresh air and simple food. It is a time for grace and gratitude in the midst of the quotidian.
And if I am honest, I often I struggle with the ordinariness of this time. I long for extraordinary moments, for celebration and epiphany. In seeking the extra-ordinary I often forget to tend to the ordinary. And so, while our home is empty of holiday décor this time of year, I do have a few items to help me remember to watch and tend and to wait for growth. Greens are brought in from outside, a felt garland of leaves hangs over an old window frame, and the table runner is green to remind me to watch and tend and grow.
My prayer is that simplicity and grace will fill this long green growing time. May we watch and tend and grow.