The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (or, “thank you / for the goddamn birds singing!”)

Yesterday (Monday) is my one big, long intense work day. I’m an assistant instructor (kind of like a TA) at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, my alma mater, for a class called Faith, Hope, & Love. It’s a class primarily for first years in their first term–it’s such a bizarre class, blending theology and psychology with a splash of neurobiology.

But it’s an exhausting day.

The class isn’t till 3:30 PM, but I find myself at the school by 9:00 AM for a theology reading group; we read Von Balthasar and try to make sense of his German and Greek. (It’s like a heady devotional, this reading group.) Then I have a meeting at 10:00 AM, my weekly walk to the market,* lunch with my MDiv friends,** and office hours at 1:00 PM.

Before I head upstairs to my office, though, I pop into the school bookstore to see Heather, a friend from church. On stressful days like Monday, I find myself gravitating toward certain people, those who are always smiling but not, ugh, too peppy. Heather is one of those people. I tell her how tired I am, and even though I’m excited for class, I am still that tired.

She quotes back to me the poem I read Sunday, for the second week of Ordinary Time: “thank you for the goddamn birds singing!”

Yes.

A reluctant thank-you.

This is exactly how I feel.

*

One thing I love about the liturgical calendar is that it provides new interpretation for my days and weeks. The season we’re in is marked by something–waiting (Advent), surprise and delight (Epiphany), repentance (Lent), new life (Eastertide), empowerment (Pentecost), the sacred in the everyday (Ordinary Time). I think of it like this: how do I experience sadness in a season marked by joy? How do I experience the ordinary (or find the ordinary) in a season full of so much newness?

The poems I choose for each season are meant to embody the feeling of that season. Ordinary Time is about experiencing God or the sacred in the everyday, the mundane, the banal. And for me–maybe the hecticness of my Mondays, the anti-climactic Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

I’m thankful for Heather who could remind me of this, by quoting Sunday’s poem to me. This is what you do in the chaotic ordinariness of your days, Lauren: you push through, hopefully with a thank you, even a grumbling one.

A Poem in Thanks

by Thomas Lux

Lord Whoever, thank you for this air
I’m about to in- and exhale, this hutch
in the woods, the wood for fire,
the light–––both lamp and the natural stuff
of leaf-black fern, and wing.
For the piano, the shovel
for ashes, the moth-gnawed
blankets, the stone-cold water
stone-cold: thank you.
Thank you, Lord, coming for
to carry me here–––where I’ll gnash
it out, Lord, where I’ll calm
and work, Lord, thank you
for the goddamn birds singing!

 

* I get my lunch at Pike Place Market, which is about a half mile from my school. There’s nothing better than enduring the chaos of tourism and fishy smells to get a Half-Rachel, No Tomato from my favorite shop, Pear, where the bearded cashier always remembers me–girl with curly red hair. “Back again?”

** They come out of Church History II by the time I’m back with my market lunch. “What do I need to know about Luther?” I ask Sarah. “Well, he was a troubled soul.” In my tiredness, my grumpiness, I respond, “OH REALLY? A TROUBLED SOUL? WHAT THEOLOGIAN ISN’T?”

About Lauren Sawyer

I am an assistant instructor at a graduate school in Seattle, Washington, and I hold a master of the arts in theology and culture. I love coffee, rainy days, and John Updike. Learn more about me at laurendeidra.com.

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