Holiness is a center that holds all peripheries; a pure internal almost-absence that makes sense of everyone and everything that busily comes to visit when we do nothing – nothing but pay attention in deeper and deeper ways; holiness is the beautiful something out of all nothingness, birthed inside us and growing inside us, that allows everything on the surface to gather meaning – an internal gravitational field of understanding – allied to an outward and radical letting alone: of family, of food, of other’s perspectives; the holy is reached through letting go, by giving up on willed perfection.
Holiness is the rehabilitation of the discarded; the uncelebrated and the imperfect, in our selves, in others, even in our close, un-cooperating, and politically exasperating relatives, into new unities, perceived again as gift. Holiness is the bringing of the detailed outside into the vast unspoken and horizon-less inside, from where the inside seems to give again, transformed as if by the simple act of breathing in and breathing out, back to the world.
Holiness is memory independent of time, time not as besieging force in which things are done, but time radiating out from the place where we stand, welling from the unspoken that holds together all words said at the busy surface; holiness marries hurry to rest, action to spaciousness, and joy to heartbreak in our difficult attempt to give and receive, dissolving giver and receiver into one conversation, untouched by the hurry of the hours.
Holiness might be in Bethlehem, or Jerusalem, or the largest, most glittering, mall, but only if we are there in good company, with the invisible, with a friend, with a loved one, with our affections, with our best and most generous thoughts, most of all with a deep form of inhabited silence, a natural, grounded, central conversation with what and how and to whom we like to give. Holiness is coming to ground in the essence of our giving and receiving, a mirror in which we can see both our virtues and our difficulties, but also, a doorway to the life we want beyond this particular form of exchange.
Holiness is beautiful beckoning uncertainty: time celebrated and time already gone so quickly. Holiness dissolves the prison of time and lies only one short step from the present busy moment: one look into the starry darkness of the mid-winter sky at the midnight hour, one glance at a son or a daughter’s face; one sight of a distressed friend alone in the midst of a crowded celebration.
Holiness is a step taken not to the left or to the right, but to the heart of present besieging outer circumstances, to the core of the pattern we inhabit at the very centre of the celebration. Holiness is reached not through effort or will, but by stopping; by an inward coming to rest; a place from which we can embody the mid winter spirit of our days, a radical, inhabited simplicity, where we live in a kind of on going surprise and with some wonder and appreciation, flawed and far from perfection, but inhabiting the still center of a beautiful, gifted and glowing peripheral.
Finding the Holy in the Holidays
© David Whyte
Mid-Winter Thoughts © 2016
Photo: © David Whyte.