Monday, May 4, 2009


Tony Woodlief wrote this last week.

It moved me to introspection.  May you be so moved.

You yearn for a holy place because, in the time between waking unable to recall where you are, and drifting again into the half-sleep that is all you’ve known for the longest time, you stand in the darkness of your sterile hotel room, peering into a mirror to see that you are nothing like what you were supposed to be. You see in this darkness that you are shadow and vapor, that the pretty words in which you wrap yourself are no more you than the dirty glass is water.

You yearn for a holy place because the stench of your unholiness, your un-separateness, your common, petty guile and smallness, is sometimes so stark that you would sooner go without air than breathe it in. You yearn for a holy place even if you think you may be damned, because to be in it is to know, only fleetingly, only with darkened gaze, that there is something more than you and the things that are so very much like you.

Your heart and flesh cry out for a space that is more than just a meeting house for commemoration and remembrance and symbols. You are desperate for a space where the God who is a love you can scarcely think on waits to commune with your pale, quavering soul. A place that is holy because it embraces the great mystery of death begetting life,  of the tomb containing joy, of sorrow and hope intertwined in a world that would deny you your full portion of both.

You are desperate for the soft spilling light of sun pouring through stained glass, for the rustle of your clothes as you kneel, for the cross by which even someone like you might be healed, for the trembling prayer, the whispered blessing. You cry out for a place that will remain holy even after you have been in it. A place so holy that you pose no threat to it, so holy that it can embrace you in all your smallness and be no smaller itself, no less clean nor true nor solid.

You are so very thirsty. The darkest part of night has gathered about you. There is no water here. There has never been water here. Why did you think there would be?

This is what you think as you lie down in your lonely bed with parched throat, as you wait for daylight that you hope will be bright enough to make you forget, for a time, this yearning. Where is your holy place? Where will you find it in this strange city, and in the strange city to follow, and in all the days you wander from home, perhaps even within the walls of home, because you have mistaken trinkets and baubles for sacred things?

You could spend a lifetime finding the holy place, rediscovering the sacred things. You should. For now the rocks and trees are silent in the close-drawn dark, but something within you is crying out, because it knows you were fashioned for more than this. Will you listen, here in this darkness? Will you stumble onto the hallowed ground and drink deep?

1 comment:

Kay said...

this literally, took my breath away & made me teary in longing...
Oh to find this place....