I walked to work last week and passed a spider web. It was stunning as it shimmered in the dewy morning light. I noticed it hung between two trees by only four slender threads. I studied this Charlotte-like web as if it might have a message for me. But as I noticed the sleeping spider, I remembered this was just an ordinary web and nothing more than a day’s work for a spider.
Also this week a reporter came to do a story about the community of Thistle Farms for a national news program. He said these were his favorite features to film, “Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” The image of the spider web flashed through my mind as I thought, “He got it wrong. We are just ordinary people doing the most ordinary thing, loving one another without judgement.” We get it backwards because in this world with airwaves packed with war, sensationalism and meaningless celebrity news, it looks extraordinary. I think all of us from time to time wonder if we are just ordinary people doing ordinary things. This week I feel like we can thankfully answer yes.
When you think about the message of discipleship, it is a call to the stunningly beautiful and common tasks sharing what have, offering hospitality to all and forgiving one another. And when we witness these ordinary ways of living, they are as stunning as an ordinary spider web, a sunset, or a new baby.
The church sets aside a holy season called Ordinary Time as sacred. The title for the office of a bishop that heads a diocese is called the Ordinary. The Ordinary is part of the religious tradition of being ordered in our daily lives so that we can always be in the presence of the holy.
Imagine for a minute an ordinary meal; imagine cooking all the food from the basic ingredients you have. Then imagine inviting everyone you need to forgive, and everyone who has forgiven you, and anyone you have been separated from either by pride, fear, or omission to share your meal. Imagine around this table all the people you have loved and those in whom you have forgotten to see Christ. They are all there with you. Sharing a meal that is no longer about the food or types of players, but overflowing with mercy and love you that pours out like a sated cup as you weep for joy. A simple meal becomes a heavenly banquet before our eyes.
When we let nothing draw our eyes and hearts and hands away from the word love, the most ordinary becomes blessedly extraordinary. We can hear our Lord say share a meal, consider a flower, and be like a grain of salt. It is then that we know we are being invited into a sacred kingdom. Is there a tatted pattern more beautiful than a web? Is there a more fulfilling meal than a bite of bread or a sip of wine? Is there anything more ordinary than that we should love each other?