One Word 365: Ordinary

I came across the ONE WORD on numerous blogs last year, maybe even the year before. I could never get it together to really reflect on what might help light the road ahead, and then this year, after reading Sarah Bessey’s word, Micha’s blog on it, and Katherine’s, and dear friend Christine’s, I felt like this year, and today would be a good a time as any, especially with so much on the horizon.

It’s Epiphany Sunday. Andy preached a wonderful sermon today, and one that got me thinking about my ONE WORD. It was towards the end of it that ONE WORD emerged as a possibility:

My desire for each of us is that we journey and follow the light that leads us to Jesus. But if there is someone here today who is wondering what in the world that light or sign to follow might look like, here is something more to glean from our text – with the wise men God used an ordinary object for them — a star. Remember, they were astrologers after all. A star makes perfect sense for them.

So don’t be surprised if God might just decide to guide you by something ordinary or familiar too, something that is already in you, or before you, that makes sense to you…and if you have you eyes open and are willing to look for it…you will see it…And, we will always have the help of peasants and shepherds, wise men, babies, and a star…and so much more around us. We also have the table, bits of bread and small cups of juice, where God invites us to feast and share together in God’s extraordinary presence.


Ordinary seems so…ordinary. Mundane. Bland. The absolute opposite of inspiring. I had toyed with “imagine,” and “risk,” and “dare,” but all these seemed…forced. Maybe in another season these would have been good for me, but there was something about this word “ordinary,” that seemed to be the thread of so much that was hitting me this past year already. Like Micha’s Sacred Everyday series, and my Motherhood Mantra series, and then being at Montreat for the Fleshed Out conference with a few of our college students. Something about the incarnation. Something about the day-to-day, and the basic, simple work of what’s before me in the kids and family, in my writing, in my small and part-time ministry. Something about the ordinary being a vehicle and instrument of the eternal, of Emmanuel, of God’s spirit.

So that’s what I’m going with for this year – 2013. Paying attention to what seems small and insignificant. Gazing at what is normally around me instead of passing it by. Being present in the mud and muck, the water, the laughter, the skies, the bite of a cold wind, the pink of a child’s nose and cheeks, the fleeting thoughts and difficult-to-describe emotions. Embracing the ordinary. Leaning into the ordinary. Growing in the ordinary. Looking out for the ordinary and how it might lead me to kneel at God’s feet, kicking softly in that bed of hay, covered in dirt and cow hairs, his blankets and swaddling loose, and the sound of gurgles and slow blinking…to kneel before God-Incarnate over and over again. It makes sense…to approach God’s very first human throne I would be led there not by a burning bush or even a choir of angels but by something as ordinary as a star and a road.

I love Ann Weems’ in Kneeling in Bethlehem:

The Christmas Spirit is that hope
which tenaciously clings to the hearts of the faithful
and announces in the face of any Herod the world can produce
and all the inn doors slammed in our faces
and all the dark nights of our souls
that with God all things are still possible,
that even now unto us
a Child is born!

I want to experience that hope, that tenacity, that radical possibility in the midst of the ordinary this year, and to share that experience with others.

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