Part of the struggle of being the person responsible for the House Chronicle is finding tidbits of life here that might be of interest to those who are not here. Fortunately or unfortunately, life is not always exciting and entertaining. Mostly, life is full of ordinary moments in the lives of ordinary people.
When I read the entries from the past House Chronicles, I am reminded that most everyone’s days are ordinary, not just ours and not just because of the circumstances that envelope this particularly unusual year. For example, here are a couple of entries from 70 years ago this week, in September 1950:
Fr. Peter B. Arrives. Fr. Peter Baptist arrived Sept. 2nd from the Novitiate. He rode from Huntington with the Seuberts, frater August’s parents. Peter had an upset stomach during most of the trip. When he entered in the refectory, he was announced by Father Guardian and received a hearty applause from the community.
Picnic. Labor Day, Sept. 4th, was Picnic Day. Early in the morning the friars assembled picnic necessities in the summer house and the picnic began. The phonograph provided the music for the day. In between hikes, games and cards the food and drinks slowly disappeared. Fraters Leopold and Harvey had a touch of the flu and had their picnic in the infirmary.
Seminarians Visit. New voices were heard in the friary halls on Sept. 9th as thirty diocesan seminarians began a tour of the place. Most of these seminarians were out of state and were touring the diocese to see what it was like. Father Finucan, the Secretary of the Bishop, was conducting the tour. They ate dinner in the guest-refectory and in the clerics’ recreation room. After the meal they looked around the friary and then continued their tour. One fellow mentioned that he had never seen so many church basements in all his life. Another fellow from Rhode Island said that he expected to see real mission churches but most of the churches he saw were like cathedrals.
Our lives this week are just as ordinary as the friars’ were 70 years ago. We don’t have any upset stomachs or cases of the flu (or COVID thankfully). We did have Sr. Barb Knauf arrive this past Monday. She has joined our staff to help us develop and coordinate our sponsored retreats and programs.
On Wednesday, Fr. Dan departed after a two week stay. Between his two retreat weekends, he was traveling throughout northern Wisconsin with a Capuchin brother, Fr. George. They were documenting sites where Blessed Solanus Casey lived and worked to create a virtual pilgrimage for the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit. Fr. Dan said they put a lot of miles on the car in a few days. We are grateful for the time they spent with us and bid them safe travels when they had to leave.
For Labor Day weekend 2020, Marge has a friend visiting her. Tracy had laundry and homework to do but maybe he will get a long walk in if the weather is cooperative. Staff members have the long weekend off to spend time with their families and friends. No Labor Day picnics, nothing exciting or entertaining, just more ordinariness.
Next weekend, we will have some familiar voices in the halls as the diocesan deacon formation program returns after a COVID-related absence and their usual summer break. The group was last here in March, and has the distinction of being the last group we hosted before closing down. We hope they will be as glad to return as we are to welcome them back. But I am sure once they are settled in on Friday and the classes begin, life will feel very ordinary to all of us.
Life is ordinary; ordinariness is life. Yet God is found in the ordinary events of life: in the comings and goings of people in our lives; in the ups and downs of health and illness; in talking a walk or sitting with a friend; in the joy of pleasant sunny days and the quiet of contemplative rainy days.
For all the ordinary moments of life, we say Deo Gratias!