We are in the midst of Ordinary Time. Yes, Ordinary Time. According to the Church calendar, it is the 33 weeks between Easter and Advent. Seriously. There’s a Church calendar. How do I know? Well, because when you’re married to the Pastor for 17 years you learn a few things about the Church calendar along with some atonement theories and the best things to say and sing at a funeral. To be fair, the Pastor is fairly well versed in the day to day work of an OBGYN and the ins and outs of undergraduate and graduate medical education.
Ordinary time is just that. It is the time between the vacations, the holidays, the birthdays, the promotions and the performances. Ordinary time is full of children arguing, deciding what’s for dinner, eating cereal for dinner, attending work meetings and then doing more work. Ordinary time is a reminder that life is full of not only triumphs but trials and sometimes just everyday “meh.” Often it is this Ordinary time that forces us to reckon with the reality of our lives and look around and make assessment of where we are and what we have become.
This year our Ordinary time was also a time of transition… and if you know me you know I am TERRIBLE in transition. It’s kind of pitiful. The last year has been full of transitions for myself and for our family. Work, school, home, work again. Our dog even died. No, really. Right at the heap of “I can’t take any more of this” we lost the only pet of our married lives. I really (really) disliked the whole season. You see, I’m an outcomes based person. I am also somewhat of a completist. I love to finish something and then measure the product and then move on to something else I can finish and measure. I thrive on knowing I can fix a problem or find a solution and then things are finished. I can measure my accomplishments and achievements, and measure myself against my neighbor, my coworker, my frenemies. I can show up, work up and measure up. I can keep my mind moving on projects and patients and planning the next big thing. But in the in-between times, the transitions, the ordinary…well, that’s not so pretty. These are the times when I cannot finish one thing and cannot start the next and I find myself at a bit of a loss. To be still in the midst of change or progress or transition or ordinary time is to be in a space that feels very uncomfortable. My mentor throughout my residency training used to force me to sit on my hands and watch others complete the work. Literally. She would say, “Katie Mae (not my actual middle name but she refused to call me anything else)….you will sit on your hands and stop the doing. Evaluate, yes. Guide, yes. Teach, yes. Lead, yes. But no doing.” And so I sat on my hands. Literally and figuratively.
Ordinary time is full of sitting and waiting. We must resist the temptation to fill the Ordinary time with places and projects because we are too uncomfortable to do the hard work of not doing. So to all my friends in transition. To all of those in Ordinary time. To those waiting for the new job, the promotion or the transition to a new house or school or city. To those waiting for a baby to place in the crib or for the lost family member to fill the seat at the table. To those who are waiting for forgiveness, waiting for peace, waiting for meaning, waiting for the next big thing…let’s sit on our hands, breathe deeper and slower, and remind ourselves that waiting is no less meaningful than doing.