Finding the Holy in an Unholy World

Finding the Holy in an Unholy WorldHoly Cow, Holy Smoke, Holy Moly, Holy Mackerel. Robin of the 1960s Batman TV show used holy as an adjective. Holy Agility, Benedict Arnold, Chicken Coop (yep, those are his real exclamations). And then there are other uses of holy that are more on the sacrilegious side. Use your imagination or your own experience.

Most of those exclamations get launched when we check twitter, read the newspaper or watch the news. There are a lot of decidedly un-holy things going on in the world. A British politician, a mother of a three and five year old is murdered on the sidewalk in one of the towns in her constituency.  A gunman kills forty-nine people in an Orlando nightclub.  Insults and racist epithets are breeding a horrible new atmosphere rather than helping us remember we are all in this life together.  We have forgotten we are all made in the image of God.

Holiness is connected to the Divine or having a divine quality.  A number of scriptures discuss holiness in individuals. “Keeping the Sabbath holy” or being “holier than thou” are both phrases that go along with this aspect of holiness.  Both of these phrases show how our understanding of holiness can be used or abused. But I am not getting up on a soapbox about this aspect.

I don’t know about you but I am tired, weary and worn after so many bad days.  We all have them. Friends and dealing with loss.  The nation dealing with loss and strife.  We don’t want to see just the human hand at work in our world. We long to see God’s work for a change.  Sure, God’s always at work but we find ourselves distanced, out of the loop or just too tired to recognize holy moments of God reaching out to us or working in others.

 It’s no wonder I’m trying to recognize or carve out my own holy moments in each day.   And often each hour.  

How do I find holy moments in the middle of this hectic, stressful life?

Silence is number one with me. Quiet. It’s more than just quiet.  No music blaring, news heads talking, cars beeping and crashing.  Troubling noise is absent when I hike in a forest, pad down a beach or just sit on my screened porch watching the fireflies come out at night.

But, and it’s a big but, I just broke my toe. No walking or hiking for me for the next few weeks.  Sigh.  That means I have to work harder at finding the holy.  I have to listen more, not just put myself in a place where I can hear the quiet and find the Holy.  Hear God’s voice. See God as Creator and Redeemer.

Confession time: I am a big eavesdropper.  All writers tend to be.  We hear conversations floating across a restaurant veranda, in Target, from the neighbor’s porch.

ManO and I tried out a new pub a couple weeks ago.  We sat outside in close quarters to other patrons. Across from us, a father sat with his grown son, daughter in law and three year old grandson.  As soon as the DIL and grandson left to go potty, the father launched into an apology to his son. His voice was big and booming. No way could we not hear it. But his voice shook.

Dad: “I know I wasn’t supportive when you moved down here and didn’t get a job immediately. But seeing the three of you together, I can see how good this move has been for you, the time you’ve had together. I was wrong.  I want you to know I am there for you to support you….”

Son: “I appreciate that, Dad.  It was hard leaving everyone up there and family but we both worked so much we never got to be a family. We needed this….”

There’s more to it but you get the gist. No, it wasn’t Prodigal Son but maybe a bit of a Prodigal father. It’s not often I hear man to man conversations dealing with heartfelt emotions. I said a prayer hoping this would be a new start for them.

Was God, the Divine, the Holy, hanging over this conversation?  They didn’t bring up God but I felt God there. Was the moment holy because of the apology and forgiveness offered?  Maybe. I don’t know for sure but it’s had me thinking for a week about those parent- adult child relationships, the Prodigal Son parable, and the w-holiness in offering apologies and accepting them with a whole heart, bringing a broken relationship back together.

Look around you and not on your phone. Listen around you and catch a glimpse of God working in others going about their lives. Take notice of where your mind goes. Does the moment make a Bible verse pop into your head? Scriptures are a great guide to finding the holy in every day.  Whether it is from a devotional you read, a sermon you heard, a video you watched, a verse floating over a picture of a flower on Facebook or Twitter.  Put them in your mind and heart. When they pop up, there’s a reason.

Lastly, we can’t always avoid shouting those exclamations, living in or staring at unholy places on the  television screen or Twitter.  What do we do in those moments?

Some folks bring up Mr. Rogers’ quote about looking for the helpers. But I think Frederick Buechner says it a way that brings in the Divine (and I must confess, speaks to my romantic heart):

In his holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints.

Look for those saints to remind you of what is holy.  The kind waitress picking up a tab for disaster workers.  Children comforting another child on the playground.  But even more importantly, BE one of those saints for others.

So where do you see the holy in everyday? How do you find the holy when the unholy crowds in?

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Sis Steele
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  1. Natalie on July 21, 2016 at 7:59 AM

    I find holy in the silence, as well. And I’m trying oh so hard to put that phone away! Lovely reminder for a lovely morning.

    • Julie Steele on July 21, 2016 at 9:16 PM

      Yes indeed. Blessings!

  2. Tara on July 23, 2016 at 1:44 PM

    I agree that we need to give and receive the holy in the every day. At my physical therapy appointments each week, I’ve been watching this older woman struggle. She comes in a wheelchair and is learning to walk again. She huffs and puffs and cries, you could visibly see her pain. My heart ached for her, each week she has made progress and can now use a walker. I felt like God put it on my heart to do something for her. So I painted this pebble, on one side it says brave and on the other side it says hope. On Wednesday, I walked up, introduced myself and gave her the pebble. I told her that she could hold it when she needed to be strong, that I watched her and admired her courage. She full out cried and cried. She said that she feels so alone with her struggles and that this was a sign from God that he’s watching over her. When she left she gave me a hug. I will never forget that holy moment.

    • Julie Steele on July 25, 2016 at 8:04 AM

      Bless you and bless her. It was a holy moment because you listened to God’s leading. It was a holy moment because she felt embraced by God. Praying for both of you for healing and continued progress.

    • Gretchen Hanna on July 25, 2016 at 1:10 PM


  3. Gretchen Hanna on July 25, 2016 at 1:15 PM

    Oooh, I love that quote from Buechner. I see holiness in tender moments and touches between a spouses, and parents and children. I see it in allowing uncomfortable silences so that truth can come spilling over the dam. And I feel it in nature around me. I was mentioning to my husband that even watering these 4 dumb flower pots brings me outside for a moment where I can nurture something and breath in its essence. Where I can just take a moment to quiet my soul before dealing with the noise of the day.

    I have to say, as I get older, Scripture has been such a holy comfort to me. I mean, DUH, but it’s taken me a long time to get past the words and search for God’s heart and his love for me behind those words.

    • Gretchen Hanna on July 25, 2016 at 1:15 PM

      Pretend I spelled breathe correctly in my comment, please!

      • Julie Steele on July 27, 2016 at 12:37 PM

        I did. Ha! And for me the outside has always been holy. But a lot of that is because scripture pops into my head.

  4. Jen on July 26, 2016 at 3:23 PM

    When I lived in California and was feeling overwhelmed by life’s pressures I would find a bench on the Esplanade overlooking the ocean. The smell, the feel, the vision of that immense sea worked like a blanket from God and melted the stress away. It was just me and God and I cherish those memories. I have to work harder to find that “place” here.

    • Julie Steele on July 27, 2016 at 12:35 PM

      Yes, yes, yes. Water is a thing for me. But the ocean is something special.

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