Maintaining a holistic pace during ‘Ordinary Time’
The church year starts with a sense of waiting in Advent, before we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. After a time of epiphany, we go into the self-denial of Lent. Then, we feast at the joy of Easter and we experience the wind of the Spirit into our lives at Pentecost.
Now, we have entered the long season after Pentecost, known in the liturgical calendar as Ordinary Time. This coincides with summer when kids are out of school and the pace of life slows down. Without the structure of those other seasons, this time can get away from us and if we are not careful it could turn into wasted time.
This year, why not use this ordinary time to grow in mind, body and spirit.
Mind — It’s easy to be lulled into the activity of television, social media, and video games, but if you spend all of your time engaged in those things, you will not be any wiser or know any more than you did at the beginning of the summer. Make a list of books that you want to read or subjects that you are interested in and spend time every day learning and reading. Start out on a Bible reading plan and set a goal of learning about one book of the Bible or reading through a Psalm each day. It’s easier to fall into the void of those other passive activities, but engaging in the discipline of loving God with your mind is a rewarding use of your time.
Body — Most of us don’t move around enough. This summer, take an exercise class, go for prayer walks, do yoga, or engage in physical therapy. Exercise is a natural anti-depressant. It’s interesting that in church we pray for people who are sick, but rarely pray for the discipline to engage in preventative health. Try new foods. Use this time to eat healthy and delicious food and explore the range of fruits and vegetables that God has provided for us. Invite friends over for a meal where everyone brings a healthy dish.
Spirit — Experience new ways to pray. Most of us are familiar with intercessory prayer, where we pray for the needs of others and the formal prayers we pray in church, such as the Lord’s Prayer. This summer, explore the act of Centering Prayer, where you sit in silence for 20 minutes each day, letting go of each thought that comes into your head like a snowflake hitting the ground and melting. Learn how to practice Lectio Divina, where you take a short passage of scripture and ask God to reveal a sacred word to you in it and then enter that sacred space in prayer. Engage in Embodied Prayer, using your hands, arms and your whole body to connect with God in prayer. Play inspirational music as you do housework or work in the garden to fill your mind and spirit with uplifting words and melodies.
Use this valuable gift of time this summer to make your time with God anything but ordinary.