Today’s post is by Trish Stefanik
Reflecting on contemplative living, I am struck by how my understanding of “holiness” has changed over the years. Not surprisingly, stirred in the mixing bowl of religious populism and American myth, I was shaped by a notion of holiness that was something I could possess and, of course, feel good about. With enough prayer and obedience, enough self-sacrifice and service, and with the right lifestyle, attitude, and community, I would get it and be holy, and that would certainly enable me, finally, to rise above the struggle of life – because wasn’t that the point?
However, somewhere along the way, I discovered that what matters is not to become holy but to realize that with every breath I take I am living on holy ground, and more amazingly, that the very ground of my being, and yours, is holy. That the human condition, life itself with its struggles, is infused with holiness pointing us always to the Holy. Nothing I can ever do will make me holy, but I can cultivate awareness of holy ground.
Is it not holy when, moment to moment, I make a conscious choice to be fully present in love and relationship, absent judgment, attachment, and agenda?
Is it not holiness when we gather with others around a table to share bread and conversation?
Is it not holy ground when the only words are tears?
How many times have we been touched by holiness through unexpected grace?
I experience holiness when I allow your heart, your story, your different life experience to touch me and widen my perspective.
I experience holy ground wherever I see kindness or forgiveness imparted.
What about when day to day you go about the daily tasks of what must be done – Is not attention and care holy?
I even experience holiness when I open my eyes in the morning and realize it is a new day.
What a relief that holiness cannot be had by an accumulation of enoughness. How grateful I am when I can simply let go and open myself to the gift of the Holy One, always present, right here in the joy and sorrow – in the heart of living.
Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.
– Frederick Buechner in Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation