*Brian K. Wilcox. 'Two Faces of One River'. Flickr
windows of Light are everywhere
an abandoned, old barn can speak of the Sacred equally as well as a majestic cathedral if one is prepared to receive the aged barn as a manifestation of ever-renewing Life
* * *
we divide into secular and spiritual this is a mental construct based on memory, on socialization but we do that our first seeing of Life is perception we turn perception into concepts Reality is one undivided whole Life is the Whole that is what we perceive before secular and spiritual arises the world I see being born sees the Truth in both and both as one for Life cannot be but one holiness, then, is wholeness wherein we no longer fragment Truth into conceptual opposites but celebrate the unity in the Light
As a teenage, evangelical preacher, I was preaching a revival meeting in North Carolina, at a Freewill Baptist church. We had a week of revival, one like I had never seen, it seemed. Persons flooding the altar, kneeling, apparently saying they were repenting of what they saw as sin.
To accent this emotive week, the membership planned a bonfire. They gathered and started the fire, throwing in things from their homes they decided were un-Christian. So, we had a huge fire.
Later, I mentioned this to the pastor, for I was quite impressed. I had never seen anything like this. He said, "Oh, next year they'll do the same thing," and commenting so as to clarify the fervor would pass and life would return to the usual.
A popular book of a past generation in the Christian faith is Jerry Bridges, Pursuit of Holiness. I guess these people were sincerely in pursuit of that ideal. I was, too.
* * *
My pursuit of holiness is highlighted by breaking my favorite, all-time music album on the sidewalk in front of my home. It was Peter Frampton's "Frampton Comes Alive," which in the late 1970s became the bestselling album of its genre all-time. I had decided this was evil, however, it not being Christian Gospel, and it did not belong in my home or life. For many years I listened only to Gospel music, and enjoyed it much. I did not miss the other styles of music I had listened to and surrendered for holiness.
I, like the congregation in North Carolina, was sincere. I appreciate that sincerity and devotion of my youth and exemplified in that people, even if for them it did not last long. I believe, however, we were not only sincere, but naieve. We were pursuing an ideal unrealistic, one surely likely to lead to that self-righteousness that seems to accompany so much social, moral, and religious idealism.
It took many years before I would purchase again, no longer the Frampton album, but the CD, for now both the vinyl album time and cassette time had passed. I was no longer in my teens, but in my forties. This repurchase marked an integration of what appears to many as opposites, as the mind tends to divide reality between secular and spiritual, religious and irreligious, sacred and profane, godly and worldly, conservative and liberal, and so forth.
After this transition, I began hearing loving, life-affirming messages in songs I once would have call unholy. So, I discovered the secular often shares with us the spiritual, as one. No, I am not saying anything goes, that morality is all relative. I am saying the boundaries between what traditionally would be called holy and unholy are not always clear, and often the boundary is misleading, for not true. I am saying that Reality is whole, so holy, and what can be called unholy is the misuse of the wholeness.
* * *
I chose the song for today, "Carnival," for it speaks of being one among everyone, not setting oneself off as pursuing an ideal apart from being a human among other humans. A pursuit of an ideal, like holiness, may lead to its apparent opposite, unholiness, for in pursing the ideal we lose contact with our real humanness amid others, and in this falsification, we lose the beauty of true holiness as true humanity. That is, we fragment ourselves off from others, and this fractional life is un-whole, so, unholy.
* * *
I still desire to lead a holy life. In a culture that mostly has given up use of and awareness of this "holy," I am not prepared to give up that word. Yet, now to be holy includes much of what is called secular. As today, in preparing to move, I have worked hard and listened to music of varied genres, including some pop music from my younger days. I have enjoyed the work much, and as much the music, have danced some and clapped some and almost cried once or twice with joy. That, to me, is ritual, is holiness, and it is secular. For me, they are one, when the message is life-affirming and love-inspiring.
whatever speaks of beauty to the heart, that is holy and one need not pursue it for it is not out of reach, it is already present, simply to be received with gratitude