Yesterday, my book club faced the new reality. We had a phone conference book club meeting. It went surprisingly well. While some chose not to participate, those of us who did found a comfortable space to shelter us. We heard the familiar voices we heard every month. We dove into the story, the messages, the motives of the characters. We were for a brief time lost in the ordinary, the familiar. Sharing time together.
One of the members pointed out that we were in the season of Lent. As she spoke about what we were going through she pointed out that lent isn’t just a time to deny ourselves, but also a time to meditate, to contemplate the deeper significance of our life and our actions.
Whether your spiritual path includes Lent or not the message is one of fostering a comforting perspective on the “crisis” we are in. The time of waiting and uncertainty is sanctified by how we view it and how we use this time.
The book we were discussing was Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. In the book Kreuger brings us to a family and a town experiencing multiple deaths and loses and bitterness. What we find near the end of the book is a young boy, Jake, who overcomes his fear of public speaking and his stutter. Where his minister father begins to say a complicated grace filled with images and scripture. Jake steps in. He realizes the needs of those present for a softer more immediate ritual of comfort. He offers a very simple, but powerful grace, an ordinary grace. You feel the relief of the characters at Jake’s words and you realize that throughout the turbulent lives of the characters and the town there were many moments of Ordinary Grace waiting to be recognized with gratitude. How immediate for us now. To look within our new and strange isolation for the Ordinary Graces that never leave us.
I have written about simple rituals before. We can instill this uncertain and often frightening time with an ordinary act. A pause before eating. A moment to connect even on the phone or messaging with a kindness, with a moment where we listen more than rush to our own issues. We can make a simple act we repeat daily from feeding the dog, or watering the garden or sitting with our thoughts into one that is sacred and healing. We can offer each other and ourselves a moment of ordinary grace.