The Extraordinary in the Ordinary

source: Torontostar

Sitting in Ordinary Time in the liturgical year of the Church, sandwiched between the Christmas season and Lent, one might consider this period just routine, even regular time, yet it glimmers of the extraordinary, dependent on one’s perspective.

Locked in a never-ending nuanced pandemic, it is so easy to lose the wonder of being alive, to listen, to see with new eyes, to appreciate the beauty of a winter day with fresh falling snow.

It was a magical time when Edison discovered electricity, and at the flip of a switch light filled a room. Today, we tend to take this for granted, and get frustrated when the Internet crashes and the Zoom call abruptly ends.

Decluttering our busy schedules, we can choose to allow the precious ordinary to become extraordinary. Fr. Ron Rolheiser suggests that we maintain a sense of childlike curiosity and wonder toward the familiar. He calls it a “second naivete.”

I recall our first grandchild on Christmas day unwrapping one of her gifts. She was more enchanted with the colorful paper she ripped off, exclaiming with delight, “Wow,” than the gift itself. Her excitement rubbed off on me, and I was a child again.

In his book, Prayer-Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster writes about finding holiness in the ordinary. He says, “We pray the ordinary in three ways: first by turning the ordinary experience of life into prayer, second by seeing God in the ordinary experiences of life; and third by praying throughout the ordinary experiences of life.”

He goes on to say, “If we cannot find God in the routines of home and shop, then we will not find him at all.

I find God at different moments like when the aroma of freshly baked muffins fills the kitchen, the grown-up child who at the end of a phone call says, “Love you guys,” and often in the song of birds.

Recently I was on a Zoom call with friends in Mexico. It was evening, and the birds seemed to be holding a conference of some kind, because they drowned out our conversation in their excitement.

Teilhard de Chardin reminds us, “do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things…as to do ordinary things with the perception of the enormous value.”

Recently, my ordinary world became extraordinary when I awoke with symptoms that warranted an ambulance ride to the hospital. This was my first experience in Canada, and I hope my last, of being attended to by paramedics in a vehicle rushing to get me appropriate medical attention.

As I reflect on my days spent in the hospital being hooked up to numerous wires and tubes, I am grateful for the amazing attention I received from doctors, nurses, technicians, and even the orderly who reached for a blanket to keep me warm, as he wheeled me down the hallways to yet another test. I was just a patient who needed care in their ordinary day, but I was made to feel special, and might I say “extraordinary?”

Then there was the moment when I was told that the Echo test was not going well, and something had to be inserted into my veins to get a clearer picture. I happen to be one of those allergic specimens of nature’s bounty, so I was apprehensive. Suddenly, I felt the presence of St. Padre Pio standing on my left, reassuring me that I would be okay. And okay I was from that point on.

Talking of saints, I pray to St. Therese of Liseux every day. She was a spiritual champion for the ordinary people. She wrote that God loves the “little” people the best. In her little way she has influenced thousands of people to draw closer to God. Today, she is a Doctor of the Church!

Another saint admired for her humility is St. Bernadette. Once a nun asked her if she had temptations of pride, because she was favored by the Blessed Virgin Mary. “How can I?” she quickly replied. “The Blessed Virgin chose me only because I was the most ignorant.”

A simple, ordinary girl by society’s standards, she was handpicked to become the messenger of the Immaculate Conception, which later became a Church dogma.

Above all else, Ignatian spirituality invites us to find God in the ordinary events of life. If we adjust our vision, then our encounters with God in Scripture, people, and everyday living can become grace filled extraordinary moments of joy.

Viola Athaide, a student of Theology, is actively involved in parish life, leading Bible courses, the Prayer Group, and the Ministry with Maturing Adults.

  • Peggy Spencer
    Posted at 01:13h, 05 March Reply

    A beautiful article written from your heart.

  • graeme quinlan
    Posted at 05:08h, 05 March Reply

    THANK YOU VIOLA. You have put so many concepts of prayerful encounters into this piece. And I am very aware that if we make ourselves available for God to work in us He will most certainly take the opportunity to work through us. We certainly don’t have to be as is said ‘Top Brass’ to be at God;s hand, no God uses the humble of heart to do the things that matter. And to do everything with Love.

  • Paul Baker
    Posted at 05:54h, 05 March Reply

    Thanks Viola. I very much identify with “Fr. Ron Rolheiser suggests that we maintain a sense of childlike curiosity and wonder toward the familiar.”

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 07:25h, 05 March Reply

    Thank you Viola!

  • Vicky Chen
    Posted at 07:55h, 05 March Reply

    A precious article full of pearls on the way. Grateful that you have recovered from your illness. Thank you!

  • Sylvia Lee
    Posted at 08:57h, 05 March Reply

    Thanks for sharing from your heart, Viola.
    Again, thanks for the reminder of finding God in our daily lives.
    God bless you.

  • Harold Lenfesty
    Posted at 09:22h, 05 March Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    My mother’s name was Bernadette and much like St Bernadette in her humility and kindness to all.
    St Therese was her much admired Patron Saint.
    Padre Pio’s reassurance in your time of need must have been a wonderful and comforting experience.

  • Lorraine Majcen
    Posted at 12:55h, 05 March Reply

    Oh! thanks so much Viola. What you have expressed so resonates with me, as I grow in my spirituality of awareness, of God being ever present, in the moments of my life. Thank you!!

  • Dawn Cox
    Posted at 22:11h, 05 March Reply

    Thank-you Viola. Appreciated this & have remembered & shared your comment last Tues. that we should pray for Putin. I think you reminded us that Paul was on his way to kill Christians when he was converted to Christianity. Appreciate the Tues. gatherings with you all & Father Leo especially. Dawn Cox

  • Maria Lobo
    Posted at 22:22h, 05 March Reply

    Yet another heartfelt sharing, Viola….thank you!
    “Choosing to allow the precious ordinary to become extraordinary”…that’s the key!
    Giving thanks in all circumstances…and recognizing HIS blessings, through it all…is a special grace you have received from our awesome God.

  • mario coutinho
    Posted at 23:12h, 05 March Reply

    Your posting and comments of deep spirituality never cease to amaze me. Your faith, despite the recent hospitalization and diagnostic treatment, gives new hope and humility to a comparatively uninformed person in matters of spiritual and liturgical studies. I am encouraged to pursue readings in that direction.
    My grateful thanks.

  • Lillian M Phelan
    Posted at 23:56h, 05 March Reply

    Viola, you make me feel very humble…thank you.

  • Ibrahim Karam
    Posted at 07:26h, 06 March Reply

    A wonderful article of the grace of God in all of us God’s saints. The beauty of doing little things in the name of Jesus is unlimited and there is no reason for any to claim “you are a tough master- so I buried the two talents” anyone can do his share by the grace of the lord, Amen

  • Paul M Howard
    Posted at 08:26h, 07 March Reply

    Jean and I hope your recovery keeps on keeping on. Somewhere in all of this, you know deep down that our body gives us a warning that a busy life, sometimes needs a slowdown. God’s grace will give you an idea of what to slowdown. Glad you are nearby
    with your big move in the midst of the a sudden trip to the hospital! J and P

  • Karen Yapp
    Posted at 10:10h, 07 March Reply

    Thanks very much Viola for sharing your insights. We pray for the grace from Our Blessed Mother Mary to change our ordinary days into extraordinary days for the glory of God by having the courage to do the extraordinary in promoting the love and peace of Christ. Amen.

  • Philip Chircop
    Posted at 10:49h, 07 March Reply

    A line from Theresa of Avila (slightly paraphrased I think), came to me as I read your lovely reflection: “God walks even among the pots and pans.” Thanks for your shared reflections and insights.

  • Teresa.correia
    Posted at 13:16h, 07 March Reply

    Beautiful ❤️

  • Lorella D'Cruz
    Posted at 06:31h, 08 March Reply

    Well said, Viola. Praying you are well on your way to complete recovery. God bless!

  • rosa scarpino
    Posted at 11:28h, 08 March Reply

    Thank you Viola for another wonderful and inspiring reflection. Especially during the time of lent we need to appreciate God’s blessings and His constant presence in our lives, and you remind us of that. God bless and keep you safe, Rosa.

  • Dee Sproule
    Posted at 09:42h, 09 March Reply

    Thank you, once again, Viola, for your insightful and beautiful reflection. What a gift you have to express your faith and give us encouragement. I join all the others who are praying for your recuperation. God bless you!

  • Christine Domingo
    Posted at 14:33h, 14 March Reply

    Thank you Viola for this inspirational, thought-provoking reflection. The Lord is using you in mighty ways and the wonderful thing is that you leave yourself open to do His Will. You will never know how many souls you have touched along the way. May God bless you always and the Holy Spirit continue to inspire you in all you undertake.

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