Ordinary Time

‘Ordinary Time’ is a concept still used by the governing bodies of some Western Christian churches to categorise the relative importance of certain periods in their calendar, such as Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter: it numbers the Sundays for which there is no specific relation to any of those events. Its computation is impressively complicated and no doubt keeps those governing bodies occupied; it’s not the sort of time you could measure with a watch. Its name does seem a bit of an insult to Time itself, though.

Time just isn’t ‘ordinary’. What a thing to say!
Time’s a slippery character in every kind of way:
He passes, but he can’t be caught; you cannot make him stay;
And he’s the cause of all our ageing and decay.

Time passes by at different rates depending on velocity,
Says a certain Special Theory, fruit of Einstein’s curiosity.
Some folk say they’ve too much Time, and fired with animosity
They kill him. (Ah, but Time kills, too: it’s temporal reciprocity1.)

Time is hand-in-glove with Life, and this you must concede:
Time can’t be earned, but only spent, for thus has Life decreed.
He flies and drags, but never stops – an uncontrollable steed;
He can’t be saved for rainy days, or begged in case of need;

He’s got a nick, an arrow, and his tables are on show;
And if you put a stitch in him, it’s nine you’ve saved. Bravo!
Yet “Time is an illusion, and lunchtime doubly so”
(Ford Prefect’s famous counsel2, and he, of all, should know).

By now, you’ll know the burden of this irritated rhyme:
That Time is inexplicable, inscrutable, sublime.
As far as I’m concerned, it is a gross linguistic crime
To downgrade such a mystery to ‘Ordinary Time’.

1   “In reality, killing time is only the name for another of the multifarious ways by which Time kills us.” (Osbert Sitwell)
2   To Arthur Dent, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
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