By Sister Nancy Surma, OSF
It’s ordinary time again. The richness of the season of Advent and the festivity of Christmas have come and gone. Last week I took down the few Christmas decorations I had, and my apartment looks empty. Church looked strangely plain this past Sunday. Now the bare days of winter with the routine of daily life and work are once more my experience.
As I took more time to reflect and journal during the holidays, I realized that I have entered into the ordinary season again in my personal life. The excitement (and sometimes anxiety) of a new job in a very different work setting, of moving over 200 miles south into a different bio-region, of living alone after years of being in a local community—all these have become routine for me. I no longer feel strange driving around the hilly terrain or running into people in the office. While I still have lots to learn and explore, I’m fitting in and liking it.
From experience, I know that change is good for me. Research shows that as we age, we need to keep our brains active to help keep them functioning well. I laughingly have called my new position my “anti-Alzheimer’s job.” The new surroundings and experiences have led me to be more alert to things and to think more deliberately about choices I make.
Yet, ordinariness is good too, something I too often take for granted. I have been forcefully reminded of that by the recent death of a Jesuit I worked for during my time at the University of Detroit Mercy. He was a year and a month younger than I and always kept in shape. In May he announced via email that he had been diagnosed with acute leukemia.
Over the summer and fall, I followed online on Caring Bridge his long hospitalizations, chemo treatments and changing routine. He eventually received a bone marrow transplant and was excited as his tests showed improvement. He so much wanted to return to his Jesuit community. Around Christmas he took a turn for the worse and died last week from host-graft disease. A normal day was what he longed for. I pray not only for his soul, but also that I learn not to ignore the ordinary.
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