Holy Now ~ An Introduction
I live in Santa Fe New Mexico, the City of Holy Faith, a place saturated with spirituality and creativity, ancient religions, modern spiritual practices, and beautiful landscapes. When the opportunity arose for me to take a few months sabbatical I decided to use the time to play a game. In an attempt to better understand all the different places we human beings find the sacred or encounter God, or go looking for the holy, I would go looking for the Holy in the world around me.
The origin of this sabbatical game, this hide and seek with the holy, is a children’s story and a song. The song is singer songwriter Peter Mayer’s “Holy Now” which talks of an historic shift in thinking from a common understanding that God was far away and the world was fallen, to an understanding that the holy is immanent in everything. The story is Mary Ann Moore’s “Hide and Seek with God.” In the story God hides and the children go looking. Depending on where they look, they discover God in many different places. It seems to me that if everything is holy now, and God can hide anywhere – even a spiritual humanist ought to be able to find the holy someplace every single day. This space will record my discoveries in words and in pictures ….
So – now I am going to close my eyes and count to ten and when I open them I am going to go looking for God . . . one. . . two . . .
Rev. Gail Lindsay Marriner
- For months a little spider lived on my kitchen windowsill
- She wove a cobwebby silk tunnel in the corner of the window frame
- carefully wrapping it around the bumpers of the old toy cars that sit there…
- I tried not to disturb her.
- She trapped the little moths that crept into the boxes of breakfast cereal in the pantry.
- The ones my mother called “millers”.
- So I fed the moths that fed her.
- And although I never saw her, we had an understanding, she and I.
- There was this web that connected us beyond the ones she wove.
- This web of words I weave each week to trap ideas,
- the one that has captured her so I may share her with you,
- is not so different from the web she wove.
- As hers fed her and connected her to the world
- So my web of words feeds me
- And connects me to my community
- And to you.
- When the summer rains came
- my spider neighbor moved
- to the other side of the window screen.
- She has gone now – leaving only a tangle of silk
- and her egg sacks behind.
Rev. Gail - July 19
The WorkerBees to the BeeKeeper
- Stand by the hive and talk to us – tell us what’s going on.
- Move calmly in our midst – and we will be calm as well.
- Shelter us from honey thieves and famine, drought and bitter cold.
- Surround us with fragrant blooming plants.
- When we are agitated, smudge us with sweet smoke and lemon balm.
- Don’t attempt to advise us – just let us work.
- We know what to do.
- Do not take us for granted.
- Trust us.
- Be attentive but give us space – remember, we can sting.
- And bless us.
- Bless the busy murmur of our voices.
- Bless our dance as we move easily from one task to the next,
- caring for one another,
- pollinating the flowers,
- making honey,
- feeding one another
- and the world.
- Bless the knowing
- that passes from one to the next
- with each murmur and each touch.
- Bless the sun beating down.
- Bless the thick fragrance of honey.
- Bless the sweetness that we create together.
- Share the sweetness with those who need it
- – we will make more.
Rev.Gail - July 12
River of Grass
- We walk out our front door,
- Down the road and into the greenway.
- The dog comes with us.
- We walk between the shortgrass prairie
- and the edge of the pinion juniper scrub land,
- where islands of evergreens rise out of waving grass.
- Where we walk was underwater once,
- a river, a lake, a flood plain.
- Echoes of the water remain
- filling the old river bed with
- a flood of shimmering grass.
- We walk along the low places.
- Coyote and her pup watch from the junipers on the hill.
Rev. Gail - June 6
- Looking for the water’s source
- we hike up the mountain path
- until we come to the foot of the waterfall
- beyond which I cannot climb.
- I sit and watch the butterflies.
- All knees and elbows,
- my son scrambles past me.
- Nimble, he climbs up the shoulders of the falls
- eager to explore what lies beyond.
- When we return home that evening
- he hands me the camera
- a gift of what he knows, what he has seen.
- Someday, he tells me, he will climb up to the source.
- Tonight, though, pictures flash across my screen:
- still pools, grottos,
- a rill of water falling from yet more distant heights.
- He has found a world where I cannot go,
- a world upstream.
Rev. Gail - June 1
To Sit Still
- I want to sit still
- this morning
- and savor the breeze that
- accompanies the slanting
- morning light.
- I want to listen to the tea kettle ticking and hissing on the stove
- and the thrasher caroling in the aspen tree
- and notice the shadows of the honey locust leaves flickering
- on the garden wall.
- I want to sit so still
- That I dissolve into the morning
- And into my life.
Rev. Gail – May 29
- The Voice of the Waterfall
- Follow the distant murmur of water until you find the creek,
- Travel upstream.
- While you walk
- listen to the creek’s voice
- as it whispers and gurgles, mutters and applauds.
- At the beginning of the journey,
- the stream winds down hill along the bottom of the valley
- Your path leads upwards.
- Watch how you go.
- Be careful where you place your feet.
- The stream may tumble madcap down the mountainside
- but you climb cautiously
- until the path and the flickering waterway
- run together, and your every footstep
- is surrounded
- by shining laughing drops racing past and
- at last,
- you find a resting place
- and sit like a good disciple
- at your teachers feet.
- Your younger companions
- scramble past and clamber
- upwards through the flying droplets
- climbing higher
- closer to the source.
- You sit and watch the blue skippers
- and the red admirals
- basking in the sun.
- You sit and listen to the river’s voice
- Aware the source is always further upstream…
Rev. Gail - May 30
A Blessing for Ordinary Days
I had the lovely opportunity this past Saturday to bless a couple expecting their first child. The day was glorious – the couple very much in love, the friends and family gathered absolutely delighted, and the expected baby very much desired. We found some fitting words for the special occasion, and there was music and much happiness. And the holy, by whatever name you might call it, was present.
As I was looking for words, though, I was struck by the lack of blessings for ordinary families at ordinary times. There are many blessings for a new child, and some for adoptions or the blending of families but my quick search didn’t find any for families after the novelty of the birth or the adoption or the divorcing or the death or the new blending has worn off – no blessings for your ordinary family, or mine, in the ordinary times of our lives – because while the holy is present at the dinner table and the car pool and at bath time and in homework we tend to be far too busy paying attention to the people and the task at hand to notice the numinous shimmering at the edge of our vision.
So I had to try my hand at writing one…
- Blessed be all the ordinary days.
- Blessed be the laundry, and the homework, the legos on the floor and the trips to the doctor.
- Blessed be the cuddles and the arguments and the outgrown clothes.
- Blessed be the bickering and the laughter,
- And all the forgotten moments that accumulate
- like dust bunnies and lost socks under the bed.
- Blessed be mealtimes and bedtimes and all of the other unremarkable moments that make up the greater part of our lives.
- Blessed be the emails and the phone calls, the photos and the skyped conversations that keep us connected even when we are far apart.
- Blessed be the day to day tasks and rituals that weave the bonds of trust and affection that cradle our family in good times and in bad.
- May our family be blessed in our going out and in our coming in and in our abiding.
- May patience and respect and a sense of humor dwell with us.
- May affection and forgiveness grow from the familiar patterns of our days.
- May we surround each other with kindness and with love.
- And from time to time may we glimpse that shimmer of the holy that gilds our
- every ordinary day.
Rev. Gail - May 13
When I glance down from the drama of the clouds and the sky, I find the holy blushing along the edges of the road at my feet: pink tinged white whiplash daisies, peachy orange globe mallow, purple verbena. There it is, the holy showing off in the gravel, “Hey, bet you didn’t know I could do this!”
Intimacy and Ultimacy. The holy showing off in the tough little plants and in the grandeur of the deep sky. UU theologian James Luther Adams claimed that’s what we humans seek – intimacy and ultimacy, and he may be right. Mostly I live somewhere in between, somewhere with grocery lists and laundry and meetings rather than the careful attention it takes to see a flower or the awestruck wonder at a storm filled sky.
Most of the time, I’m not particularly attentive to the ultimate or aware of the intimate. The slice of reality that I usually occupy includes the stiff Eldorado wind and the Fed Ex truck rumbling by. How lovely to discover that the intimate and the ultimate are blooming right alongside me.
Rev Gail - May 10
If Beauty is a face of god, a name of the holy, then god has been hiding in the clouds these past two days. Or if we follow the thinking of our transcendentalist ancestors who found evidence of god writ in the book of nature, god has been speaking through them. Great heaps of clouds have been tumbling over the Sangre de Cristo mountains, drifting against the Jemez, veiling the Ortiz’ and Sandias. They have been filled with thunder and twilight, color and sunshine, rain. Chasing the wind across the sky.
If god were speaking in the clouds, what message is writ there? Something about change? Or about softness and power? Or humility? Maybe. But the sky has been so dramatic it almost feels like the holy is a little kid tugging on my sleeve – “Hey, look what I can do! Watch this! And this! And this! Don’t look away – you will miss it!” The sad part is that too often I have been too busy to pay attention. The glorious part is that when I do – the beauty is right here.
Rev. Gail - May 9
A Meditation on Remembering
Albert Schweitzer wrote…
"We all live, spiritually, by what others have given us in the significant hours of our life. These significant hours do not announce themselves as coming, but arrive unexpected. Nor do they make a great show of themselves; they pass almost unperceived. Often, indeed, their significance comes home to us first as we look back, just as the beauty of a piece of music or of a landscape often strikes us first in our recollection of it."
Often I don’t recognize the Holy in the moment but only discover it when I am looking back. That maybe what makes memorial services, especially those for the people we love, so intense. Through the fog of grief, in the midst of the remembering we become aware – sometimes for the first time – just how caring or dedicated or funny or wise our loved one was. Just how much others cared for them and for us. Just how much Love our relationship held. And when we share memories in a service that love is present again. Wander through your memories –is the Holy there?
Rev. Gail - May 7
A Meditation on Cleaning
Soap and water, mops and rags,
scrub and dust until the space shines in anticipation
of life entering, love becoming.
Done in the right spirit,
cleaning is Love expressed as service,
a meditation, an act of devotion, a prayer.
The Holy does not care about your shabby sofa.
It delights in traces of life being lived,
of growth, happy memories and daily use.
It revels in attention, care, loving touch.
Chase the dust from the corners,
wipe the grime from the windows,
do the dishes.
Clear a space for Life to happen,
for Love to unfold,
for the Holy to enter. . .
If everything is Holy,
even the clutter is made of stardust and
the Holy is already here.
Perhaps the space cleared by dusting and cleaning
is not in my study or my kitchen
but in me.
Rev. Gail – May 6
If you draw a circle in ink with a brush, if you trace one in the sand with a stick, if you make one out of rose petals to surround a wedding couple – will something Holy enter?
What if you call the four directions with sweet sage and tobacco smoke? Or make one out of standing stones as tall as two people? Or convene like hearted folk around a round table with tea and cookies, or breakfast and coffee, or elk burgers and black beans and watermelon? You know it happens when you gather around a camp fire—just try to stop it….
Is it even necessary to ask, to invite, or are circles like some law of physics or a fractal equation that when they are created somehow naturally fill with Mystery?
Does Mystery come of itself when we shape ourselves into a circle - like a chalice, a nest, a basket?
Will it come, moving eye to eye, and heart to heart, person to person until it fills the center and overflows?
I keep finding myself in circles.
And something life affirming and mysterious keeps showing up.
April 27 – Rev. Gail
- The Four Chambered Heart
- I was there that night.
- I could almost feel the walls pulsing.
- Lub dub.
- Lub dub
- The quiet breathing and deep sharing of the circle of women at the new moon.
- The exuberant voices and clash of swords as the young players in the Upstart Crows rehearse.
- The low voiced intensity of a leadership team planning for the future.
- The glorious exhale of music echoing from the Peace Choir and flooding the hallways.
- And the time bank volunteers talking,
- And the activist support group organizing,
- And people gathering and dispersing and moving in and out again.
- Lub dub
- Lub dub
- Circulating through the four chambered heart
- That is our building
- Flowing out into the community
- Lub dub
- Lub dub
April 25, Evening ~ Rev. Gail
April 24, Morning
- A flare on the horizon
- Early morning rainbow
- Reaching straight up.
- Cold rain off and on all day.
- Earth answers sky
- In rainbow petals
- When the sun returns.
April 24, Afternoon
- Two rainbows in one day.
- At daybreak a rainbow flare
- unfurling upward over the western mountains.
- This afternoon a low flat arc
- barely clearing horizon in the east.
- Of course, I knew
- that rainbows came in many shapes
- – didn’t I?
- Rev. Gail
This late April weekend with spring well underway and plans for every minute, how do you respond to the snowstorm that has come whirling down from the north oblivious to your wants and needs?
Do you savor the transformation of the landscape – clean and white and muffled? Grey cloud quilt sifting feathers over everything, obscuring the mountains.
Do you fret about the trees branches bending like archery bows beneath the damp weight, or about the tender plants mummified in icy shrouds?
Are you irritated at the disruption as classes and events are cancelled or postponed?
Do you glory in the reprieve of a morning, an afternoon, an evening blessedly free from all those things you were scrambling to accomplish.
Stop a moment.
Open your door and stand on the doorstep.
Listen to the quiet. Taste the air. Feel the snow on your cheeks.
This is what the Holy is like sometimes: Implacable. Quiet. Dangerous and beautiful. Breaking branches and blocking roads even as it nourishes the landscape.
This is what the Holy is like sometimes.