“Anything newsworthy?”, I asked. “I can’t think of anything other than the ‘usual’”, was the response.
This may be hard to believe, but most of our days here are pretty usual. In fact, most of the time we actually prefer usual to the unusual events that have occasionally been featured in the Chronicle like power outages or the theft of property or three months of Covid lockdown.
Usual means Jain and Jackie H. are just doing their thing every day to keep this old house clean and ready to welcome guests: mopping and vacuuming floors; cleaning bathrooms; stocking linens in rooms; clearing cobwebs; wiping fingerprints off the front doors; emptying trash; ordering linens and housekeeping supplies.
For Kim, usual means she is in the kitchen planning meals, ordering the food and putting it away when it comes, prepping what she can during the week to make the weekends less hectic, feeding the crew lunch and doing dishes.
Usual means JustBob dealing with the new list of repairs that were spotted over the weekend, tackling his never-ending to-do list of projects, setting up meeting rooms to accommodate groups’ and guests’ needs, moving furniture, offering some TLC to the boilers, tending the grounds and changing light bulbs.
For Adele, Sr. Barb, Cecilia, Jackie K. and Ron in the front offices, usual means looking ahead days, weeks or months to keep the ministry’s wheels turning: planning and preparing for retreats; booking hosted groups and private retreatants; sending electronic and printed communications to retreatants, donors, friends and supporters; answering phones and questions; collecting payments; paying bills; ordering office supplies and bookstore merchandise; and a thousand other little things.
Usual also means volunteers pitching in and helping out with all of the above, all of whom need to be recruited, trained and supervised to varying degrees, and always appreciated for their assistance.
The bottom line is usual is not a bad thing; it doesn’t mean we are idle or that nothing is happening here. Usual is what we too often take for granted. Usual is what sustains us, what keeps us going day to day, week to week, year after year. Usual is what provides us with the strength to endure the unusual. Usual is something to be grateful for, even as we remember and pray for the many people who are dealing with the unusual events in their lives, and for those whose usual is unimaginable to us, like violence, war, poverty, hunger, homelessness or chronic pain and illness.
For all the usual things, usual days, usual people that sustain us and make up the usual-ness of our lives, we say Deo Gratias!