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Celebrating the Ordinary

This is a season of extremity. A time when I always seem inclined to say "yes" or "no" but never "maybe"; the position of the sun seems to cast experiences as black and white, and I struggle to sit in the grey—the in-between. Though we are weeks past the longest night, the days of evening sun feel far off in the future. 


This is a season of ambiguity. It is a time when I waver between what I want to keep from the year past and what I want to change in the year ahead, the plans that excite me and those that tighten my stomach with anxiety when imagining all that is to come in 2024. Though we are merely in our second week, I am seeking concrete answers of what I can expect when, at best, there might be an Etch-a-Sketch outline of plans that could easily vanish with one good shake. The implications of the election year ahead make this feel even worse.


This is a season of extreme ambiguity. So, how do we care for ourselves in this season? How do we treat ourselves with generous love? Perhaps we can begin by learning from the ordinary that surrounds us. I was reminded of this poem by a fellow intern minister last week, and I'm grateful for the chance to share it with you. 


The Patience of Ordinary Things by Pat Schneider

It is a kind of love, is it not?

How the cup holds the tea,

How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,

How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes

Or toes. How soles of feet know

Where they're supposed to be.

I've been thinking about the patience

Of ordinary things, how clothes

Wait respectfully in closets

And soap dries quietly in the dish,

And towels drink the wet

From the skin of the back.

And the lovely repetition of stairs.

And what is more generous than a window?


When we look towards that which is ordinary, we grasp a special kind of attention. An attention that offers a deeper relationship to the world around us. And as much as I adore relating to the generous window that, at this very moment, is raining sun onto my desk, another version of ordinary offers a valuable response to seasons of extreme ambiguity.


When we look towards that which is ordinary in our lives, that which exists within us whether or not we attend to it, we face our values. When we pay special attention to our values, we give ourselves a chance to not only live into them in relationship to others but reflect them to ourselves and truly experience what we offer the world. It could take countless forms, perhaps in giving ourselves grace as we prioritize something that matters to us but may seem trivial to others, taking time to share our anxieties and excitements with others so we don't hold them alone, finding patience for ourselves as we try to carry all that we are given in this life. This is the work that sustains and helps us weather the season. 


May we treat ourselves with the generous love that we offer others. May we rejuvenate the practices and rituals in our lives that already help us connect to this generous love. May we celebrate the ordinary that holds us when we face the unknown.


May it be so,


Sophia

Intern Minister


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