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holiness vs perfection

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FINDING THE HOLY IN THE HOLIDAYS:

Holiness is the center that holds all peripheries; the ground beneath feet running to look for gifts, the held note of a song that leaves a listener silent in the busiest most glittering street. Holiness is a simultaneous form of invitation and gathering and a radical letting alone, of family, of food, of perspectives, the holy is reached through letting go, by giving up on perfection. Holiness is the rehabilitation of the discarded; the uncelebrated and the imperfect, into new unities, perceived again as gift. Holiness is the bringing of the outside into the inside, from where the inside can give again, transformed as if by its simple act of breathing in and breathing out, back into the world.

Holiness is memory independent of time, welling from the unspoken that holds together all words said at the busy surface; holiness marries hurry to rest, stress to spaciousness, and joy to heartbreak in our difficult attempt to give and receive and as a culmination can dissolve giver and receiver into one conversation, untouched by the hurry of the hours.

Holiness is not in Bethlehem, nor Jerusalem, nor the largest, most glittering, mall, unless we are there in good company, with a friend, with a loved one, with our affections, with our best and most generous thoughts, with a deep form of inhabited silence, or in a grounded central conversation with what and how 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: just one look into the starry darkness of the mid-winter sky at the midnight hour, just one glance at a daughter’s face; just 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 straight through present besieging outer circumstances, to the core of the pattern we inhabit at the very center 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 spirit of all our holy days, a radical, inhabited simplicity, where we live in a kind of on going surprise and with some wonder and appreciation, far from perfection, but inhabiting the very center of a beautiful, peripheral giftedness.

Finding the Holy in the Holidays
© David Whyte

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I sat in the library
With the small silent tree,
She and I alone.
How softly she shone!

And for the first time then
For the first time this year,
I felt reborn again,
I knew love’s presence near.

Love distant, love detached
And strangely without weight,
Was with me in the night
When everyone had gone
And the garland of pure light
Stayed on, stayed on

Christmas Light by May Sarton

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watercolor by Mary Lou Peters

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One thought on “holiness vs perfection

  1. Pingback: Embrace the darkness - Turn Toward the Light

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