Why is it that, as I began to think of a November theme for my Spiritual Journey writer-friends, that the word holy came to mind?
I suppose it was connected with the start of the holiday season…holiday, from the original Old English, hāligdæg, means holy day.
I am writing this on a holy day to many around the world, All Soul’s Day. Following All Saint’s Day. Following All Hallow’s Eve…a holy triduum for remembering the dead, collectively known as Allhallowtide. On Halloween morning I saw a mystical fiery rainbow in the clouds, a colorful band of light joining earth to heaven. Genesis 9:13 played in my mind: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. A promise from God. There’s also a rainbow around the throne of God (Revelation 4:3).
Holy. As in hallowed.
I think of votive candles lit in memory of deceased loved ones, the bright flames driving the dark away, the way that hope does in the despairing soul. So many holy-day observances involve the lighting of candles.
My little granddaughter had her first birthday at the end of October. A solitary candle burned on her cake, representing her one year of life.
It also means blessed.
For me, holy is closely linked to my life-word, awe, in that they encompass the divine and a reverence for it. Even a shadowing of fear. When I was a small child attending church with my grandparents, I sensed all of this on entering the sanctuary, long before I had words to convey it. I did not know, then, about the ancient Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle where God’s presence dwelt, that only the High Priest could enter it once a year to make atonement for the Israelites, and that anyone else trying to do so would die. Even the High Priest had to prepare with great care.
Holy. It means sacred, consecrated, set apart.
The ancient Jews considered the Holy of Holies the spiritual junction of heaven and earth.
I looked at all the white-rail decor in that long-ago Methodist church and could not understand, describe, or convey…but I sensed holy and trembled.
My other granddaughter, age six, was baptized recently. I watched her, robed in white, descending into the baptismal pool where the preacher—her stepfather, my son—held out his hand to her. Her little face was aglow with the faith of a child (the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these), looking up at her dad with absolute trust. My son was overcome with emotion.
My spirit clings to the word. Although it seems like life is often consumed by an ever-raging sea of unholiness, the holy is always there, like a luminous lifeline. It shines in faces of children. It swells in birdsong, in music so beautifully composed that it draws tears. It lives in extraordinary, self-sacrificial acts of love. It manifests itself in healing. In forgiveness. I see it often in nature, obeying its patterns, displaying such breathtaking glory and wonders that one forgets the brokenness of things. Yes, when the slant of light is just right, one gets a shot of awe, a glimpse above and beyond, a perceiving of holy. Of the presence of God. Like a fiery rainbow on Halloween morning.
In the end, it is all a matter of opening the soul to seeing.
Here’s to finding the holy in every day of the journey.
I wrote a poem about the rainbow on All Hallow’s Eve; people forget the Christian connections to the day.
Spiritual Journey Friends, please share your links in the comments below – blessings to you all!