Attending to the Ordinary in Surreal Times Cherie Harder

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

—Annie Dillard

One of the illuminations of the cloudy climate of quarantine is its effect of changing our daily habits enough to help us recognize them, rather than simply repeat them. For many, life is busier than ever, and harder than ever—but it is undeniably different. Our normal habits, rituals, and practices have stopped or changed. Our expectations have been thwarted and forced to bend to a new reality. We may consciously miss what we once took for granted and practiced on autopilot.

There is opportunity in such unwanted, even painful interruption. As Tish Harrison Warren wrote in her luminous work Liturgy of the Ordinary: “Our way of being-in-the-world works its way into us through ritual and repetition…We are shaped every day, whether we know it or not, by practices—rituals and liturgies that make us who we are…Our hearts and our loves are shaped by what we do again and again and again.”

The way we spend our days is not only the way we spend our lives, but also the way we come to want our lives to be spent—as none of us are immune from the human tendency to increasingly value and desire what we so often do. And so, an interruption in our normal rituals and routines often comes as a revelation of the accidental liturgies that absorb our attention and shape our loves.

Warren continues: “The often unseen and unsung ways we spend our time are what forms us…Whether we examine our daily activities theologically or not, they shape our view of God and ourselves. Examining our daily life through the lens of liturgy allows us to see who these habits are shaping us to be, and the ways we can live as people who have been loved and transformed by God.”

This Friday, we’ll have the privilege of hearing from Tish Harrison Warren as we discuss both the “ordinary” practices and liturgies that shape our lives, and the implications of these unusual times. We hope you will join us!

Recommended Reading and Resources
As we navigate these uncertain times together, we recommend the related resources
below as both an encouragement and catalyst for reflection.