Recipe for Holiness

It occurred to me about halfway through our service this morning, just after the baptisms and the Peace, but before we began preparing for Mass, that the whole point of ritual is not, pace Durkheim and therefore almost every social scientific argument since Durkheim, something to do with "making society" or, pace Turner, something to do with liminality or, pace nearly every other theory that I have read or heard about that tries to "make sense" of ritual as if it were some kind of great phenomenological, sociological or anthropological mystery, but rather and quite simply, if not also profoundly, wait for it..."making holy." Now what do I mean by that? It has something to do with power, but it's not power. And it has something to do with beauty, but it's not beauty. And it has something to do with becoming conscious of the presence of God, but it's not (or not only) the presence of God. It is a transformation of reality and the everyday so as to make reality Real and the everyday Now so that the Divine may come rushing in, even though it was always already Here.

Darn it, I knew I wouldn't be able to find the words to express this realization. You had to have been there, it seems, reading the things that I did right before going to church, about runes and words and the Word and the way in which Wodin/Odin gave humanity the sacred letters with which to the sacred words; hearing the sermon that we heard about how everything in Ethiopia from the monuments of the ancient Church to the very ornaments on the doorknobs is marked with Christian symbolism and meaning; watching the children running eagerly to the font for their baptism; thinking about baptism and resurrection and how hard it is to believe that our bodies will rise again. And then there was the thought that I had while the choir was singing the psalm about prayer and the desire that I have had all these years to learn the psalms and yet never seem able to fulfill, about how important it is to have certain forms of words at one's disposal in moments of stress or joy or grief and how maybe this is the magic that I have been looking and longing for in prayer but haven't been able to express. The words have power because they are always with us: "Our Father who art in Heaven..." "Our Father who gave us the runes..." And being with us, they draw us into themselves; we become one with the words, with the Word, and therefore participate in His holiness.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...." And died and rose again from the dead, not metaphorically or spiritually, but bodily, in the flesh. And yet, how hard it is for us, like Thomas, to believe without touching the holes in His hands and His feet and putting our hand into the hole in His side.... Sorry, I've totally lost it. As always when I start trying to write one of these posts that expresses something so beautiful and moving and deeply profoundly maybe-just-maybe-I'll-get-out-of-this-spiritual-desert-and-catch-a-glimpse-of-what-I-spend-my-life-reading-about-in-the-works-of-the-monks, my son and my dog and my husband erupt into my life and I lose focus and temper and end up yelling. This time it was my son asking me to help him with his German vocabulary and then the dog jumping into my husband's bath water, plus the fact that my hair how now not been washed since Thursday after practice because we don't have a shower at the moment and I skipped practice yesterday to take some things to the cathedral shelter that have been sitting in the hallway for nigh on three months ever since we started the remodeling and I'm behind in my own class prep and starting to freak out utterly. So I suppose I'm not going to be able to tell you what I felt this morning after all.

Despair.

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