My Dirty Work Gloves
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.
- Our Future’s Kingdom View - July 29, 2020
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Love this, Diane
Is our need to label or compartmentalize..maybe that human desire to control in some way…and letting go of that…frees us up to enjoy His presence…
There is something about joining forces with God in the garden to help in the creation of things that are beautiful. It is indeed holy!
Maybe you’re not praying while in the garden, but I’d venture to say that you’re so present in the moment that you’re listening with your being. I think God likes that, and it might be why we feel so close to him in doing those solitary, holy things. Love your words, Diane.
You make me wish I was a gardener even more. I always feel like I need to fill the quiet space, but what a great place to just be.
“Holy. The effortless presence of God in my life. The knowing, and the acceptance of the not knowing.”
Printing that for my home office Diane, love it!
I often feel God’s holiness when I’m in nature, His peaceful presence. I fear that so many are missing out on that, overly connected to their devices, working too much, rushing from one event to the next, falling into bed exhausted. Their brains so over-programmed that they can’t experience God in the everyday.
I crave the quiet. To just be for a while. To sit with my thoughts. To pause and remember that God is with me always.
So not a gardener, but you made me want to be, for a brief moment. 🙂
You know, the peace of just being in nature does something to the soul. Emerson & Thoreau are my favorite writers & philosophers. The thought it best to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and move to the country so they could commune w/God in nature. Being in nature has it’s soothing qualities and gardening is one of those things that brings us closer to God while out there playing in dirt as my kids called it…lol.
I really loved this piece. Especially this:”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.” I have felt similarly. 1) I’m exhorted to be holy as he is holy. 2) I’ll never be 100% holy. 3) It doesn’t matter how holy I am or someday get. He’s holy enough for all of us. What a comfort!