Sunday, November 15, 2015

It Happens All the Time

"A Holy Moment"


Every time Sunday comes along my thoughts go to all the many people throughout the globe who attend some sort of “House of Worship” over any given weekend – off to a church or a temple, a mosque or a synagogue, those sacred places where “God” resides. Over the course of my life I have gone to church almost every Sunday and sometimes I have encountered “God,” there through “holy moments” in which I experience “great mystery” and profound instances of transcendence.  But there have also been many times when a church service was little more than an empty ritual and I walked away pretty dry and empty.

Personally, I don’t think of “God” as a heavenly super being that resides within the space of some designated holy shrine, nor do I believe that an hour or so during a weekend at church is the only time for encountering this Holy Presence we call “God.”

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I had lunch with one of our sons who is away at college. By all accounts this was a pretty routine event as we shared a quiet meal in the corner of a nice but ordinary restaurant. And yet, as we sat together and talked I had this brief and sudden flash of revelation-- it was a “holy moment” of transcendence as I was pulled out beyond my own tiny isolated self into an experience of that which is greater than me. It was an encounter with “God.”

My guess is that this probably happens all the time even when we are not aware of what is going on.

We are always given opportunities to walk over the “thin-space” threshold into the experiences of holy moments, but we don’t do so because our minds are too preoccupied or we don’t think “God” could possibly be available outside of sacred spaces like a temple or a church - certainly not while eating a dish of ice cream during lunch at a village restaurant.

I am reminded of something author and poet, Christian Wiman, once wrote:

A Holy Moment can happen whenever that membrane between
our selves and everything else that is not our selves ‘thins,’
and we become what we are not, or more accurately, what we more truly are.

People seem to expect God to come in a whirlwind and not in a real wind.
But it is ‘God’s’ presence in reality that is so mysterious and so insistent.
The whole notion of sacred experience, the sense that there are holy moments in life
that should be honored and consecrated as such,
is being systematically eliminated by contemporary culture.

As another Sunday dawns, I have little doubt that many people will experience holy moments inside churches and great cathedrals, those places where we expect “God” to show up. But I also have no doubt that for “those who have the eyes to see or the ears to hear,” experiences of transcendence can likewise happen while sitting in a restaurant or standing at a checkout counter in a supermarket.

Just look for the real wind and not a whirlwind.  

Holy moments happen all the time and you don’t even have to “believe in God” to know that this is true.

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