I think my understanding of the concept “holy” evolved somewhere between my first communion and touching the wriggling minnow caught in my net at summer camp. The idea of holy immigrated from an echoey church that smelled of incense and psalms and kneel-dimpled pews to seeing the midnight milky way that night I talked to my bestie on the cordless phone in the middle of the lawn. Holy and me came to have an understanding: It would always be secret, it would always be available, and it promised to make me feel (something) and I would know it when I seen it.
Holy was no longer frankincense escaping its decanter like jinn from a lamp, no more a captive in a flying-buttress box. Holy became ancient fallen trees brought to their knees by hurricane Gloria. A waterfall you cannot see unless you hike five miles in. Bowls cut into rocks for sweet, clean drinking. The white flash of space between midnight and dawn in an Arizona bowl. My son’s smile while he slept on my couch. My friend’s dying. Rescuing box turtles as they crossed trafficky asphalt in pursuit of their home. Curtains of fireflies rising from hot summer grass, signaling secrets on four- and sometimes eight-horsepower wings. A stranger paying for her formula at the checkout counter because she ran out of Wic. Listening to a stranger’s broken heart because it’s all he needed.
I’m not sure you believe in the word holy, except for maybe that one time you saw the moon on the walkway. I think you do what you do and holy never crosses your mind. But I believe you felt it in your fingers when you plucked the katydid from the parking lot and put her in the grass. Holy is in you. Poetry is in you. I weep because I see it and you doubt, you refuse to believe. Holy is available to us all, every day, all the time, no sacrament required. We just have to keep our eyes open, allow ourselves to see.