Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Getting Holy

Where I sit is holy
Holy is the ground
Forest, mountain, river,
Listen to the sound
Great spirit circles all around me

Who I am is holy
Holy all are we
Body, thought and motion
Connecting you and me
Great spirit circles all around me

What I do is holy
Holy is my way
Work and play together
Celebrate the day
Great spirit circles all around me


During the summer months our church choir goes on vacation and the congregation steps up to the plate with some individual and innovative music. But last Sunday’s music blew us all away. The song is a Native American chant sung most recently by Shaina Noll. I got my copy off of iTunes but you can get the whole album at Amazon. The album is titled “Bread for the Journey”

I could go into details of the beautiful sound of the individual voices blending with the gentle sound of the flute soaring over us and the drums beating into our very bones….but that’s not what we’re here to talk about today.

I decided to get Holy if it killed me, dammit.

It was a perfect day to get holy. Beaven left right after breakfast to go to Dallas and wouldn’t be back until the next afternoon. I had over 24 hours all to myself.

I realize what a gift, an absolute luxury, I have out here. I seldom have to do anything I don’t want to anymore. I wake when I want and go to bed when I want. We eat when we’re hungry and we never have to worry where we will get our next meal. Beaven and I are both incredibly happy, healthy, and comfortable with who we are. But I wondered about this being holy thing.

First, I bought the song from iTunes for 99 cents. Good start. Then I paired it with about three other Holy Spirit type songs and listened to it in a loop for most of my morning while I cleaned house and did laundry.

I still didn’t feel quite as holy as I thought I should feel. When the mail came and brought me the latest copy of the Rural Farm news I noticed they spent half of the front page describing how toxic the soil has gotten from this drought. They used lots of words I didn’t realize farmers knew like “Nitrate uptake” and “prussic acid.” This didn’t sound like Holy Ground.

So I decided to take a walk around the place to soak up a little holiness.

I started with a walk around the pond.

I found cow tracks, which are unusual on our land. Then I saw the cow’s calling cards all around our pond. We are fenced except for one tiny break by the neighbor’s pasture, the neighbor who is notorious for letting his cows get out. This cow had found a way out of her pasture and into mine while my guard dogs snored at the foot of my bed.

About halfway around the pond I met Harold-- pretty much where he is every afternoon at this time, laying half in and half out of the water. Harold is either a water moccasin, which is poisonous, or just a plain water snake, which is not. Beaven and I spent the last three or four days doing a little research on our new friend without coming to a definite conclusion. We lean toward saying he’s just a plain old water snake. I named him Harold because it just seemed like it would help if we treated any snake we see as though it was always the same snake, kind of like a pet, as opposed to a whole herd of identical snakes that only come out one at a time while the rest wait in the bushes.

I stood for a long time and watched him. If I got too close he would slide back in the water and swim a little farther down the shoreline. I started out trying yet again to decide what kind of snake he is but eventually I forgot to worry about that and began to notice how graceful he is, as he stranghtened his coil and curled himself through the water in an elaborate "S" and then straighten completely to match the shape of the water's edge. Eventually I became too bold and he disappeared into the water completely and I lost him. As I stood watching for him I began to notice the water bugs skating on top the water. A few tiny young frogs would hop into the water as I approached where they were sitting. I could never spot them until they had already gone ‘plop’.

I decided to build a fire to burn some of the wood we cleared over the winter. This was the perfect time since Beaven was gone and he, well; let’s just say he doesn’t like it when I build fires. After the fire died down I got a lawn chair and sat to watch the coals. I was in a little pocket clearing where the woods were thick around me on three sides with the pond and the sun setting behind my back.

If you’ve sat by enough campfires you eventually learn to tell the wood you are burning by the smell of the smoke. This fire was oak and elm. No pine or cedar. Cedar pops and generally tries to take over. Oak fires are very calm.

Night fell slowly. I could hear the birds and the cicadas telling each other goodnight. The fire had taken on a very innocent assortment of flames that might have been what the scriptures had in mind on Pentecost.

The bullfrogs started croaking in the water and the tree frogs answered them from the woods. The coyotes sent out a group of howls to announce they were on duty tonight. A few domesticated dogs barked backfrom their backyards. Day turned to dusk and dusk became night. The Chuck Wills Widow, my favorite bird , called out to announce that all was well and the night became a symphony of sounds. I put more logs on the coals. I realized that except for a few conversations with the dogs, I hadn’t used my voice since I visited the produce stand around lunchtime and I was enjoying the quiet.

I walked out to the clearing across the field and impressed myself at being able to navigate easily in the dark. I know this ground well. I went to check on the sliver of moon I had seen through the trees. There I spotted three stars and remembered something I read this week that said the Sabbath arrived when three stars became visible at night. I returned to the fire and noticed how good the warmth felt on my legs.

I realized that where I was sitting was holy.

1 comment:

VLB said...

Powerful stuff.....