“When all is said and done, faith may be nothing more than the assignment of holy to events that others call random.”
~Barbara Brown Taylor, The Preaching Life
The wheel has turned yet once again. For those of us who stumble and mutter our way through life by hanging out in the church, we are soon to fall headlong into the long season of Lent. This Sunday sees Jesus bathed in light and shining like an otherworldly being and next week we begin the long, slow walk through the last days of his earthly life. Days filled with the range of emotion common to all humans…..fear, betrayal, loneliness, failure, and deep, deep sadness.
In my particular community we have chosen a theme to hold us while we walk through the 40 days and 6 Sundays of Lent before we reach Easter. “Holy Way” is the short phrase that will show up in liturgy, prayers, songs, sermons, in written and spoken word. Two short words that actually hold out quite a feast to the reader or hearer. Holy. What does that word mean, anyway? What image or feeling does it conjure up?
As I was leafing through a book by one of my favorite writers, Barbara Brown Taylor, I saw the sentence above outlined in yellow highlighter. I just can’t seem to shake the ingrained school practice of underlining! Her explanation, definition, of faith was a good reminder for me as I begin this season. How can I be open to the ways in which the holy and the ordinary share space? What lens allows me to see the One who breathed the world into being in the seemingly random acts of the world?
“Faith may be nothing more than the assignment of holy to events that others call random.” For some I can imagine that this statement seems near heresy. For others they may just furrow their brow and move on. But as I read it I am reminded of the many ways I can move through the world bouncing from one random act to another. If I am lucky…..or blessed….to open my eyes and my heart to the path, I notice that something More is at work in my comings and goings. Those are the moments, for me, when a light shines more intensely on my path and I wake up to myself and the holy that has been right before me all the time.
As humans we like to divide things into neat and tidy categories. Black and white. Young and old. Rich and poor. Conservative and liberal. Sacred and profane. Religious and worldly. We seem to think this helps us traverse the paths of our lives more easily. But I am not so sure that it true. It seems to me it allows us to set up walls in our hearts and minds that keep us from seeing and experiencing the holy……the Breath the breathes through us all…..in any real way.
What if we were to approach each day and all the manner of events that make up our days with the notion that they will be filled to overflowing with ‘holy’? What if we were to allow the holy to be our modus operandi all day long? First cup of coffee? Holy! Warm winter coat? Holy! Snow piled higher than our heads? Holy! Ice formed by tires and cold and all manner of chemicals? Holy! The smile….or frown….on the cashier’s face? Holy! A friend’s phone call? Holy! The words of that person with whom I disagree? Holy!
You see how it might go. As my faith community lives into the theme of Holy Way, it is my prayer that we might all begin to see not more randomness but more holy. I wonder how that all might lead to holier days, holier decisions, holier laughter, holier tears……holier people.
Lent lasts a long time so we will have many days to live our faith…..and our holiness.