When I say the word “ordinary,” what pops into your head? It could be all kinds of things, but at it core it must be something with no special or distinctive features.

Ordinary gets a bad rap. No one likes ordinary. Everyone tries to stand out somehow – to be extraordinary. But I wonder, what’s wrong with being an ordinary person or with simply enjoying some ordinary days?

In the church liturgical calendar, the ordinary time (ordinary days) is considered those days between Christmastide and Eastertide. It is a season of reflection and consideration and preparation between the extraordinary events of Christmas and Easter. The ordinary time is a time of personal and spiritual growth for Christians. It is a time when we can exhale and inhale deeply.

I don’t know about you, but I find in my own soul, deep down in the marrow of my being, a growing desire for ordinary. I’m exhausted by the extraordinary events that interrupt our days with ever-increasing frequency and intensity. I’m not looking for the good ol’ days, but rather the ordinary days, when I can slow down a bit and see things that go otherwise unseen in my daily rhythm of life.

It’s in these ordinary days, if we are observant, that we can make out the shadow and outline of God’s hidden work throughout the previous year.

I want to introduce a principle to you that I believe is vital as you simultaneously look back in hindsight and look forward in anticipation for what lies ahead. It is the principle that “the presence of absence is not the same as the absence of presence.” This comes from the Biblical book of Esther.

In Esther, God is not named, but His hand is everywhere. God doesn’t speak, but the characteristic signs of the direction of providence are all over the text, communicating as loudly as any prophetic oracle on how we are to understand the events as they unfold. There is the presence of absence (His name and voice), but there is not the absence of His presence.

The spiritual practices of silence and reflection and contemplation allow us to see God at work through His kind acts of providence.

Take some time in these ordinary days to pause for a minute. Exhale deeply. Inhale deeply.

Look back and see if you can make out the traces of a loving and benevolent and good God who has been at work in your life every single moment of every single day. It may have been hidden in the moment of experience, but now can become clear in a time of reflection.

God is busy at work behind the scenes of your life. He is the unseen director of history. He the unseen director of YOUR history.

Rev. Bill McCutchen is lead pastor of Hilton Head Presbyterian Church. bill.mccutchen@hiltonheadpca.com or hiltonheadpca.com