Holy, That word freaks me out, yet calms me at the same time. It conjures up a standard I will never reach, and at the same time a peace that I often feel.
Holy=God. That’s what I know in my brain. That’s what I sing. It is a fact confirmed in HIs word. How then, could I aspire to reach that place, that pinnacle of holiness.
I guess maybe I think too much of Holy being something I am, or become. Rather, I also know Holy to be a place, like where God said to Moses, Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. (Exodus 3.5)
But there are times when I am digging in my garden that I have such overwhelming peace that it scares me. It’s like something surrounds me, envelops me. It’s not an overwhelming, get-up-and-dance euphoria, yet it is a pleasant slow dance inside me.
I know feelings are fleeting, and often dependent on what I have eaten (or not eaten), by how humid our summer air becomes, or how much yoga I practiced that morning to stretch out my aches and pains.
Yet, I do feel the presence of holiness in this ordinary garden soil of mine. Often.
Barbara Brown Taylor captured my very thoughts in An Altar in the World,
To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger—these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir. Most of these tasks are so full of pleasure that there is no need to complicate things by calling them holy. And yet these are the same activities that change lives, sometimes all at once and sometimes more slowly, the way dripping water changes stone. In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking, bodily practices remind the willing that faith is a way of life.
No need to complicate things by calling them holy.
I think we humans complicate things by thirsting for labels, and descriptors for everything. We can better compartmentalize our life, put everything in a tidy order, organize around themes. But then we lose the holy, we lose the sheer wonder of our task or place or meandering.
I don’t pray when I garden, although it seems like the proper thing to do. I don’t sing or hum or whistle. I just garden.
If I can learn anything from the state of mind I travel to when laboring in my garden, it’s this. I am nowhere. I am just there. In the presence of God. Faithful that something might, or might not, grow because of my efforts. Thankful for the time that God has blessed me with in retirement, accepting my life as fleeting and limited. Hopeful for the rain and the sun to nourish the earth I have just worked, loving God’s perfect planned cycle of life for everything, even plants.
All of that, yet exerting no effort to get it. That’s my faith.
Holy. The effortless presence of God in my life. The knowing, and the acceptance of the not knowing.
My dirty garden gloves the only proof that I have been in the presence of holy, that I have been on His holy ground.