Friday, December 01, 2006

hole-iness

Today in breaks from homework I've been reading Anne Lamott's "Plan B," a kind of sequel to "Traveling Mercies," which I read a couple years ago. I noticed this quote:

"Holiness has most often been revealed to me in the exquisite pun of the first syllable, in holes--in not enough help, in brokenness, mess." (p. 68)

This strikes me as truthful, even though I wouldn't have thought of it. I have this idea of holiness as purity, mystical union with God, or the essence of God's self, transcendent and perfect. It's something saints catch a glimpse of, or mystics and prophets envision in ecstatic experiences.

But I like Anne Lamott's understanding better, and it seems right. I know that I experience God and utter awe at perfection and beauty when things are falling apart than when I piously sit in meeting, secure and content.

I don't like to admit this, because it means that really I should seek out those moments where it feels like life is full of holes, and that doesn't sound like much fun. It's hard, too, because it seems like Christians go off the deep end one way or the other, either ignoring passages about the inevitability of persecution in Jesus' name, or becoming ascetic martyrs who try to bring as much suffering on themselves as possible. But I think I'm more in the former camp...I talk about the fact that we should be willing to be persecuted for our faith, but I don't really experience any persecution. But the times in my life where everything seems messy, or where I don't feel like I have what it takes to deal with the situation, or where I admit that I'm not perfect...these are the holes where God's holiness can shine through to me.

1 comment:

QuakerK said...

I was discussing some Christian theological concepts in my religion class today, and I began by grounding them in the "conversion experience," an intense sense of divine love and forgiveness--I used Wesley and Lamott as two examples. I noted that it tends to be notable in people who are undergoing some sort of crisis, be it spiritual or physical or both. So one of my students asked, "Does that mean you can't be a good Christian if you haven't gone through a crisis like that?" I said that it seemed to me that Christianity taught that God loves everyone, even those who weren't experiencing crises, and you could be a good Christian without having a crisis first.

Perhaps that's not quite true? Perhaps if you haven't experienced a crisis, you haven't really examined yourself? Or you haven't really put yourself on the line? On the other hand, that seems it might become excessively morbid.

David