Writer’s Block, Ordinary Time, and Grace

“The Holy Family (detail)” by Murillo

During the first weeks of Ordinary Time, whether it is after Christmas or Easter, I generally find myself faced with writer’s block.  Is it the mental overload of Christmas or Easter? Is it the busyness of work as we get back into the routine? Is it the weather?

This week there aren’t even any large feast days on the liturgical calendar to give me inspiration. Just day after day of Ordinary Time.

Writer’s block.

I stared at the computer screen, wanting to write something profound and deep. Nothing came.  What was wrong with me? I looked at old posts. Perhaps I had written about everything already. I spoke to a priest friend and then realized I was complaining to someone who had to preach every single day.

Writer’s block.

This wasn’t supposed to happen with our Faith. The Scriptures are infinitely deep, full of new discoveries. The teaching of the Church is wondrously rich in mystery and insights.

Maybe Ecclesiastes is right. Maybe there’s nothing new under the sun.

In my morning prayer, my mediation took me back to those early years of Christ’s life and back to that little family in Nazareth. Living in relative obscurity for thirty years, their daily life looked like nothing new under the sun. Joseph earned a living and taught his trade to his son. Mary worked hard to make their lives comfortable even in simplicity, keep their small home clean and keeping her men well fed. They went up to the Temple for Passover. They helped their friends and neighbors.

But their life was unusual. Because it was the New Temple that was going up to the Temple. It was God who was laboring as a carpenter in their midst. It was the Messiah who was eating dinner at their table.

Each day, no matter how ordinary or mundane or predictable the hours and minutes may seem, is new. These hours and minutes have been given to us so that we can make something great. That greatness may not look great to the world. Joseph is making a table. Mary is washing clothes. But those are the moments where our soul is tried and purified. Those are the moments where we choose a silent prayer over complaining, we choose work over laziness, we choose God over ourselves.

Every minute of every day can be a prayer, even when we are busy at the task at hand and don’t think to whisper one. Because each day can start with a Morning Offering, where I offer everything to Him.

Even writer’s block.

As we enter this season of Ordinary Time, spend a moment in prayer thinking about the hidden life of Christ. Why did he choose to spend most of his life in silence? He had so much to teach us. He had the Kingdom of God to inaugurate, He had Scripture to fulfill, He had every soul to save. And yet he spent most of his life as carpenter in the tiny town of Nazareth.

Perhaps because he knew most of our life would be spent in silence. Most of us will not be known by people outside of our friends, family, and coworkers. We will not make a splash in the news, we will not win national awards, we will not make the history books. That doesn’t mean our lives are not filled with greatness.

Every moment is great, or has the capacity for greatness, because every moment is a choice. The present moment is the moment of grace. Not the past or the future, but now. C. S. Lewis, in his famous work The Screwtape Letters, notes the following truth under the pen of Wormwood: “The Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. [God] would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present — either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.”

Let us follow the example of the Holy Family and find greatness in our daily life today – because that is where we will find grace. Whether the daily life is cross or pleasure, whether it is writers block or profound insight, whether it is carpentry or raising Lazarus from the dead – that is where grace is.

Let us be saints in Ordinary Time.

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About the Author

Joannie Watson

Joan Watson was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, but college and graduate school took her to Virginia, Ohio, and Rome. After graduating from Christendom College with a B.A. in History and Franciscan University with a M.A. in Theology, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be part of the explosion of Catholic culture in the middle of the Bible Belt.

She has been blessed to work for Dr. Scott Hahn at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia at Aquinas College, and the Diocese of Nashville. She is currently a full-time Catholic speaker and writer. She also serves as the Associate Editor of Integrated Catholic Life.

When she’s not testing the culinary exploits of new restaurants or catching up on the latest BBC miniseries, she’s FaceTiming with her nine nephews and nieces and enjoying her role as coolest aunt. She likes gelato, bourbon, and the color orange.

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