john davies
notes from a small curate

updated regularly
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Holy Days / Holidays

    Blue Coat School 17/07/2002

    'Holy' is one of those words which, as soon as you start trying to dissect it to explain its meaning, its meaning disappears. A bit like 'grace' or 'wisdom', ancient words which still carry force, 'holy' is an enigma. We only understand it instinctively, only through stories we can tell or sights we have seen.

    So I'm not going to try explaining 'holy' today. Instead I'd simply like to invite you to contemplate the question: what makes a day, a holy day?

    William Blake said: 'Everything that lives is holy.' To say such a thing he must have looked at things very closely. Gone deep down into things.

    Terry Tempest Williams explained this more vividly. He said:
    The world is holy. We are holy. All life is holy. Daily prayers are delivered on the lips of breaking waves, the whisperings of grasses, the shimmering of leaves.

    He saw holiness in natural things. To him, perhaps, a holy day is a day spent appreciating nature.

    I wonder if you have ever found this happening to you. Maybe you have and you've never had the word to describe it until now.

    Maybe you've had a holy moment looking at the night sky and discovering one of the planets, one you've never seen before, twinkling down at you.

    Maybe you've had a holy hour lying in the back garden listening to the birdsong in the trees, starting to believe you know what it is the birds are singing to each other.

    Or maybe you've had a holy day on the beach, hearing the voice of the tide as it washed in and out; or walking up a mountain and feeling the air refresh you the higher you climbed.

    There's something in all these moments which could be called 'holy'.
    They're a bit like the moment God stood back from his six days creating night and day, sun and moon, land and sea, fish and flying things, animals and humans; and said, 'It is good', and decided to take the next day off work to carry on admiring all the good things in the world.

    This means that there's a connection between 'holy days' and 'holidays'. They're both about taking time off, time out, to enjoy the world around us.

    I hope that these summer holidays you will experience some holy days.
    Days when you find yourself looking at things very closely.
    Days you go deep down into things.
    Days you find God, whatever you perceive God to be, in the summertime activities of relaxing and playing and exploring.

    WE ARE MADE TO RISE: George Macleod

    Invisible we see You, Christ above us.
    With earthly eyes we see above us, clouds or sunshine, grey or bright.
    But with the eye of faith, we know You reign: instinct in the sun ray, speaking in the storm, warming and moving all Creation, Christ above us.

    Invisible we see You, Christ beneath us.
    With earthly eyes we see beneath us stones and dust and dross.
    But with the eye of faith, we know You uphold.
    In You all things consist and hang together:
    The very atom is light energy, The grass is vibrant, The rocks pulsate.

    All is in flux; turn but a stone and an angel moves.

    (adapted from The Whole Earth Shall Cry Glory, Iona prayers)