Things have been crazy around here since November: mostly good stuff – a birthday celebration for my dad, a visit from my brother and his kids, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, a new job, a week away with my husband and children, coupled with some challenging health problems with my in-laws. The pace has been rapid and steady.
My house is a mess. Meals are scattered. My prayer life is squished.
I need ordinary time.
This is one of the things I love about being Catholic – the seasons the Church gives us to order our days and deeds and make them meaningful, walking through sorrow and joy, the Lents and Easters, the Advents and Christmases along the way.
This past Sunday, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, closed the Christmas season, and on Monday we returned to Ordinary Time, which we will mark until March 5 when Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (late this year!)
Today’s Old Testament reading from the book of first book of Samuel (3:1-10, 19-20) provides a road map for the days ahead. It is a familiar story:
One day Eli was asleep in his usual place.
His eyes had lately grown so weak that he could not see.
The lamp of God was not yet extinguished,
and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD
where the ark of God was.
The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.”
Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”
“I did not call you,” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.”
So he went back to sleep.
Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli.
“Here I am,” he said. “You called me.”
But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”
At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD,
because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.
The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time.
Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am.
You called me.”
Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth.
So Eli said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,
‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’”
Young Samuel, lacking the experience and wisdom of Eli, did not understand, and so he simply obeyed:
When Samuel went to sleep in his place,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
One of the things that I think is notable of this scene is actually the first verse of the chapter:
During the time young Samuel was minister to the LORD under Eli,
a revelation of the LORD was uncommon and vision infrequent.
Sounds to me like it was “ordinary time” – the Lord was pretty quiet; Samuel and Eli were sleeping, and “a revelation of the LORD was uncommon and vision infrequent.”
And so it goes with us. Life quiets down. The celebrations end. The decorations get put away. A rhythm returns.
Monday of this week, my older daughter returned to college for her last semester. Next week my younger daughter will return. The house will be cleaner, meals simpler, life quieter. I will miss them, and have already shed a few tears, but this is now my ordinary life, my ordinary time.
I pray that in it, I will say to the Lord as Samuel did, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,“and simply obey, responding as the psalmist exhorts us today, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.” (Ps 40:8a,9a)
Won’t you join me?
Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us! Anne