Beside Restful Waters

“It is not effort but invitation that opens the human spirit to the possibility that

God may sojourn with us.”

Dr. Barbara Holmes: Joy Unspeakable

Quoted by Fr. Richard Rohr

Here is the full context of Dr. Holmes’ statement: “Holiness is a concept that makes ordinary people nervous….. The holiness that Jesus describes has less to do with pious character traits and more to do with the hosting of God’s abiding presence. It is not effort but invitation that opens the human spirit to the possibility that God may sojourn with us.”

First of all, as an addict, the concept of holiness was certainly a source of nervousness to me. Why was I nervous around people who obviously lived in the presence of God? Upon reflection the answer seems obvious – now. As a practicing addict, I was only comfortable in the presence of like-minded people. Sober people definitely made me nervous. Sobriety was a stranger to me. Sobriety challenged my way of living, thinking and being.)

(Feel free to substitute ‘sobriety’ with ‘trauma recovery’

My early experience with sobriety was a very strange and unknown phenomenon. I did not know myself as a sober man. It took about three years for me to grow into my sober self, AND I am still growing into that self.

Now, I think of this concept of holiness: This is a term that still makes me think of saints and angels. I have met a few of saintly people. Early in sobriety, saintly people made me uneasy, like I could never be that way. Their peace and contentment was not familiar to me. I was not at ease in their presence. So, what happened?

How do we ‘host God’s abiding presence?’

How do we host anybody’s abiding presence?

It’s simple. We invite them into our home?

Isn’t that what we do with our friends? “Please, would you join us for a meal?” “Would you join us for a stroll in the park?”

We offer a simple invitation into our presence.

Yet I can recall many occasions when my intention was to impress people. I would fabricate a façade that I wanted to ‘show’. My intent was to put myself on display for judgement, hoping for expressions of approval. In such events, I made myself the center of attention.

In retrospect, this was hardly an invitation into ‘presence’. Rather it was a show.

The ‘show’ was a reflection of my desire to search out an external voice of approval and compliment. I was searching ‘out there’ for my sense of purpose and approval. I do not recall any sense of purpose of approval when in that mindset. I do not recall any sense of peace or contentment.

I am learning from recovery, yoga, and spirituality that IT is not out there. IT is from within. IT, as Dr. Holmes explains, comes from invitation. IT is welcomed into an open space. My open space recognizes and accepts your open space. When two or more are gathered in my name – in my space - I AM present.

I AM. Presence.

By invitation.

By openness.

At risk and vulnerability.

With all my scars – and yours.

WE ARE. Presence.

We sojourn. We journey with each other for a while.

We invite each other to holiness.

Hi, holy one.

Hello divine one.

Greetings saintly one.

How are you, scarred one?

Shall we walk together?

Shall we heal together?

Beside restful waters.


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