Post-Jerusalem I’ve been waiting to write this blog post. I wanted to see if my feelings changed after the proverbial dust settled from visiting the 3,000+ year old city. They didn’t, so here I am.
I can’t begin to walk you through the sites. The magnificence of such sacred places can be insinuated in images, but feelings doesn’t translate onto film. The sights, the sounds, the sensations, and even the smells of a city that has meaningful significance for the 3 largest monotheistic (belief in one God) religions in the world – Christianity, Islam, and Judaism (in order of size) – truly must be, and should be, experienced in person.
Instead, what I want to share is an unforced and unexpected revelation. For me, it changes everything, and yet nothing.
Our insightful, affable and engaging tour guide, Shaia, asked us at the beginning and at end of our 9 hour tour, what “holy” meant. When we each eventually were able to articulate an answer near the tour’s conclusion, he gently challenged our interpretation. If “holy means religious” does that mean marriage outside of the church isn’t holy? If “holy means meaningful to the individual” does that mean holy can be a computer or better yet, a computer game? If “holy means something that has changed form” does that mean a transgender person is holy?
Perhaps ask yourself what “holy” means to you before you read further. Because if you are like me, it’s not a question I previously spent much time considering, but yet it’s one that carries great weight to many.
To Shaia, his shared definition was that holy was something that was different, which Lilian so aptly understood. She quickly offered up an example in agreement: the word “holiday” was a derivative of “holy-day” as in a day that is different from others.
After a single day spent…
- discussing the historic and political significance of the Dome of the Rock (also known as Temple Mount);
- exploring the reason behind the Western Wall (because despite being located in Israel, Jews don’t have access to pray at Temple Mount);
- touring the underground and partially underwater City of David, and;
- walking the Via Dolorosa, the 14 Stations of the Cross which commemorates from sentencing to crucifixion, Jesus’ last day on Earth as a man,
…this definition of “what is holy” made sense. This was a day that was truly different, which meant that by recent definition, it was a holy day. It was the perfect punctuation and period to a truly special day.
But for me, the figurative period soon morphed into a question mark. What is holy, really? Because our collective agreement, while broad, felt a tad too convenient.
Despite loving and giving prayers of thanks to Jesus of Nazareth each and every morning, I don’t go to church and don’t call myself a Christian. And I’m not Buddhist despite learning to teach mindfulness meditation, which is firmly grounded in Buddhism. And while I love the traditions in Judaism founded on family, faith, and food, I am not a Jew. But I am spiritual. God matters a great deal to me. I think our Creator, God, the Divine, is within us all. God is what both binds and what unifies us. So how then does this relate, if it relates, to my definition of holy?
I had a revelation, or really maybe more accurately, I came to a deeper understanding of myself and my beliefs. Holy isn’t just the religious. Holy isn’t just the exception. Holy isn’t just the abnormal and/or the paranormal. In my expanded world view, holy is everything.
Holy is every person. Holy is every place. Holy is every object. Holy is every experience. Because what is holy? Holy is what is. Holy is presence. Holy is this person living an authentic life. Holy is this current moment that is both priceless and fleeting.
And this is what I believe that Jesus, and Moses, and Buddha, and Martin Luther King Jr. (and many others) were trying to tell us. Love each other as equals, because in the eyes of our Creator, we are equal – we are brothers and sisters of the Divine that loves without question, without exception.
We are holy, this place is holy, even this very moment, is holy. I’m grateful for spending these holy moments with you.
With loving gratitudes,