Holy cow! Holy mackerel! Holy Father. Holy Toledo! Holy moly! Holy @#%$! Holy Spirit. Holy Bible. Holy ground. Holy terror (usually reserved for toddlers). Holy Grail. Holy Qur’an. Holy rollers. Holy Sutras.
Holy. The word is sprinkled throughout our vocabulary. In different forms it is found in most of the world’s languages. It appeared first in ancient Semitic form as Q-D-Š (–), to designate something set aside for sacred use. The Hebrew qudosh (קֹדֶשׁ) was used in reference to holiness. In modern English we have a remnant of the original QDŠ through the Greek in the form of kudos. Yes, kudos, from an ancient Semitic root.
But what does holy mean? What does it look like? Looking within ourselves we can see that which is not holy, not good, not right. Yea, verily, many of us are certainly good; but holy? Not likely. Examining human history grants us further illustrations of that which is not holy. Ask any parent and they will inform you about their two year old from hell. Ask any parent of a teenager about half-truths, deception, secrecy, and “attitude.” Or sit in on a session of Congress, or a corporate “merger,” or international negotiation to avert a crisis. Holy would not be the first descriptor that would come to mind. On a deeper level, humanity seems rife with a characteristic we all understand and perceive to be definitively e-v-i-l. And evil needs no definition (the Plague, Vlad the Impaler, the Holocaust, Hiroshima/Nagasaki, Mao Zedong, Idi Amin, transAfrican genocide & starvation; whether we believe it to be of human or spiritual origin, there is little doubt in the human history, and within the human psyche, these individuals and events were (are) truly evil. The opposite of all that would be considered holy, in both nature and effect.
So how do we comprehend the holy? How do we even begin to define it? It is not evil: it is untainted, pure, safe, and complete unto itself. Through our world’s religions we can look at various definitions and interpretations of holiness, but can we ever really examine something that appears to be completely outside our realm of experience? Whatever it is, it is something totally other than what is normally familiar to us.
Or is it?
Is there, imbedded deep within our innate human consciousness, a sense, a knowledge, of that which we call holy? How is it that we possess a sense of reverence for holy things, holy places across the globe? Why do we consider certain practices or rituals holy? At one time or another we have all known fleeting glimpses of a holiness beyond ourselves which we intrinsically recognize within our souls. How can this be?
Allow me to suggest that there is within us all a holy presence who is intimately familiar with us, who seeks us, and desires that we seek him as well. Do not shy away from this quiet voice within. It just may be He who offers you a way beyond the rest of the evil we bear, and which we encounter each and every day of our lives. Maybe it is time we thought of holiness as more of a foundation, offered us as a basis for our lives than as an eventual reward for being good.
Have a nice week,