The Riddle of the Ordinary and of Stewardship

Oftentimes, there may be a temptation to think of “stewardship” as a big word and to imagine one’s self doing great things to be called a “steward.” In the simplest of terms, however, stewardship is about being grateful to God and how we express or show our gratitude in the way we live.

Stewardship is realizing that everything in our lives, even the most ordinary of circumstances, is a blessing and that the little acts of kindness and giving that we may do to people we meet or encounter or even the way we go about our regular activities, assignments, or work, is also part of stewardship.

We share here a piece by Cynthia Ozick about The Riddle of the Ordinary. May it open your eyes to the blessings that abound in your life and how opportunities for stewardship are found right there in the midst of the kind of life that you live.

“The Extraordinary is easy. And the more extraordinary the Extraordinary is, the easier it is, “easy” in the sense that we can almost always recognize it…The Extraordinary does not let you shrug your shoulders and walk away.

But the ordinary is a much harder case. In the first place, by making itself so noticeable – it is around us all the time – the Ordinary has got itself in a bad fix with us; we hardly ever notice it. The Ordinary, simply by being so ordinary, tends to make us ignorant or neglectful; when something does not insist on being noticed, when we aren’t grabbed by the collar or struck on the skull by a presence or an event, we take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.

And this is the chief vein and deepest point concerning the Ordinary; that it does deserve our gratitude. The Ordinary lets us live out our humanity; it doesn’t scare us, it doesn’t excite us; it doesn’t distract us…Ordinariness can be defined as a breathing space: the breathing space between getting born and dying, perhaps; or else the breathing space between rapture and rapture or more usually, the breathing space between one disaster and the next. Ordinariness is sometimes the status quo, sometimes the slow, unseen movement of a subtle but ineluctable cycle, like a ride on the hour hand of the clock; in any case, the Ordinary is above all what is expected and what is expected is not often thought of as a gift.”

Reflect on your daily life. Are there things, events, or people that you have taken for granted simply because they are always there as you expect? How are you being a steward through the ordinary things that you do at home, at school, at work, or in your parish?

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