Ordinary time

Ordinary time

15775388518_6ce6332eb3_zAnyone who’s lived with cats or children or saints knows: higher creatures have their own calendars.

It’s only us earthbound types who think holidays are sparsely scattershot across the year.

"I do not know this 'ordinary' of which you speak."
“I do not know this ‘ordinary’ of which you speak.”

You or Dwayne Johnson or I might hear “holidays” and think: “Christmas, Chanukah, Easter, Thanksgiving, St. Swithen’s Day.” We see a few bright pinpricks across an otherwise monochrome year.

But Jaeger hears “holidays” and sees a canopy with more stars than sky. There’s Commandeer Jane’s Lap Morning. There’s Circle Zoey‘s Food Dish Afternoon. And who among us can deny the splendor of All The Volunteers Arrive En Masse Saturday?

Kitty hears “holidays” and sees a feast so full it bends the table in two. There’s Big Round Donut Bed Day. There’s Silent Meow Month. And every ever-lovin week is Wispy White Whiskers Week.

To open eyes, there is no ordinary time.

Well, actually there is one Ordinary Time. On the Christian liturgical calendar, Ordinary Time is essentially The Span Between Stuff. It’s not Christmas. It’s not Easter. It’s not Epiphany or Advent or Lent. And if “Ordinary Time” sounds ordinary, check out the Latin name for this spellbinding season: tempus per annum. That means — hold onto yo’ hats — “time during the year.”

Ordinary. Flat. Matte.

Ordinary Time spans the summer. This made some sense to me as a squirmy seven-year-old scanning the bulletin in our old Reformed Church. Perhaps Ordinary Time had to do with school being out.* Summer days are long and sweet but kind of indistinguishable. One day pours into another like so much lemonade.


It’s fine. It’s fun. But it can lull you into a hammocky haze of lazy unawareness. It can seem like little matters. The things you do and the thoughts you think melt like the crayons in the car. Vanity of vanities, all is ordinary vanity.

Unless you’re a cat.

Fortunately, this summer at Tabby’s Place, the cats are reminding us — again, and surely not for the last time — that there is nothing ordinary about any time in which you are alive.

Bonnie, for instance, is alive. Make that Alive. Long after her “IMMINENTLY TERMINAL CANCER!!!” diagnosis and bot-delivered super surgery, Bonnie…is…alive.

She’s no longer sporting the extraordinary beauty that once made her “highly adoptable.” Bonnie’s eyes are a little misty now, her body bony in one place, lumpy in another. Grooming is low on her list of priorities, so her fur sticks up in clumps and clods as though she’s been golfed upon. And her nose is always, always, always snotulating something.**

But Bonnie is alive.

Bonnie will sing to you if you show any sign of bearing wet food (by which I mean you appear in her line of vision and are remotely conscious). Bonnie will bump her still-stubborn head against the Community Room door to go out and in and out and in.

There’s still a world for her to see. There are still things to be done, couches to be lain upon, Marios to be napped beside.

She’s awake. Alive. A miracle.

"Does this old-man ear hair look ordinary to you?"
“Does this old-man ear hair look ordinary to you?”

And you bet your bazooka she’s not calling this precious time “ordinary.”

Cypress has likewise turned the liturgical calendar on its ear — an especially excellent feat given her own cauliflower-y ears.

Unlike Bonnie, Cypress hasn’t battled a terminal illness during her time here. Cypress’ survival has never been in question. Ours, however, is another story.

Many full moons ago, Cypress was a Wild Savage Beast. Although we’d been told that she was friendly and snuggly and rub-your-legs-off affectionate in her outdoor days, she came to Tabby’s Place with murder on her mind. Over the years, we worked out a compromise: we would not touch her, and she would not end us. She found comfort with questionable company of the Dobro variety.

And then, seemingly all of a sudden, Cypress decided to do a U-ey.

If you sang Taylor Swift in reverse, you might have our Cypress.

One day: we used to have bad blood.
The next day: baby, now we’ve got mad love.

15621633949_8c9973aff6_zWe can’t explain it. We couldn’t willfully obtain it. And even we, clay-footed and human though we are, know enough not to call it “ordinary.”

But maybe Ordinary Time doesn’t deserve such a bad rap. Maybe there’s something to be said for the “down” season between great flashes. When you’re not holiday-ing in the conventional way, you can cast your eyes on the small beginnings, the mustard seeds that mature into miracles. Maybe that’s why the church has historically associated Ordinary Time with the color of growth and hope and new life: green.

Yes, we are in Ordinary Time. But these days are anything but ordinary. And a little cat shall lead them all.

*Because I was precisely the kind of nerd who thought that school was extraordinary. And by “was” I mean “still am, always will be, semper nerdus.”

**Snotulating, v.: Emitting snorkely snot.

Photo credits from de top: Mark, Jess B, Mark, Jess B, AT. Word.

2 thoughts on “Ordinary time

  1. I have witnessed the Cypress turnabout. During my early days as a volunteer, I could not reach a hand close to her. She (and Dobro) would skitter up the ramp. Same went for Scooter, who does his wild man skittering over the rainbow bridge these days.

    Now, I can lean close to the cubby Cypress sleeps in (or approach her in the solarium, where ever the whim takes her) and enjoy her little happy snorts as I skritch and scratch her softness between the ears. She LOVES it. I find that mindblowing!

  2. Kisses to Bonnie! Keep enjoying every day – yes, every day is holiday. Nice to read about Tabby’s residents. Thank you also, BittyKitty.

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