(Holy) Water, Water Everywhere

The water is everywhere in Tampa.  A wide river winds through the city, slipping by skyscrapers and McMansions.  Brief bridges span the little inlets and lakes scattered throughout the city and suburbs.  The big bay stretches to the horizon, and, just beyond it, the cities of Clearwater and Saint Petersburg stand tall and proud before the Gulf.  There, the sand is white, the sun hot, the water cool, and the daiquiris delicious.

Holy Water, Water Everywhere

And, yet, I am always forgetting about the water.  Even though it surrounds me as I run errands, commute to work, and go out to dinner, I forget about it.  I don’t enjoy it or appreciate it or even notice it enough.  Instead, I get distracted and then consumed by the anxious voices in my head.  I worry about money (how will I ever pay off my student loans?!?!) and housework (what if we buy the wrong chair for the guest room?!?!) and health (am I getting enough folic acid?!?!) and family (I should call my Grammy more often) and friends (I need to mail that bridal shower gift) and so on and on and on and so forth.

These are not frivolous concerns; family and finances and health and home are important.  They deserve serious attention.  They do not, however, deserve compulsive worrying, and my anxiety surrounding them ultimately hurts more than it helps.  The concerns clutter my mind, like towering stacks of old magazines, appliance manuals, and campaign leaflets.  They pile up and stand between me and the water.  I can’t see or hear, much less feel, the waves, even when they’re lapping at my feet.

(Holy) Water, Water Everywhere

 

***

So it is also with the divine.  Revelations of the divine are everywhere in our daily lives.  They, like the water, wind through the world.  A long conversation with an old friend.  A good book.  A beautiful song.  A breath-taking sunrise.  A life-giving sunset.  A hot cup of coffee on a cold, early morning.  Dare I say a frozen strawberry daiquiri on a hot, humid day?

(Holy) Water, Water Everywhere

 

None of these things are to be seen, much less worshipped, as God Himself.  Rather, they are simply examples or perhaps even proofs of God’s ever-present grace and love.  In the words of the Andrew Greeley, they are “the Holy lurking in creation.”

These revelations surround me, but my worries prevent me from seeing or hearing, much less feeling, them.  Instead, I repeatedly echo the Psalmist, asking, “why, Lord, do you stand afar and pay no heed in times of trouble?” (10:1) or begging, “do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress” (102:3).  Here I am surrounded by water and God, but I feel dry and deserted.  Here I am talking with friends, reading books, listening to music, and watching the sunrise and still I shriek, “How long, Lord?  Will you hide forever?” (89:47).

These, of course, are not frivolous questions.  Oftentimes, (and sometimes it seems like every time), God does not provide the help I request in the manner and time in which I request it.  He has not, for example, clarified exactly how I should pay off my student loans.  Nor has She enabled me to effortlessly remember to make time to call my Grammy.  As the Psalmist indicates, there will always be times when God, and even that divine grace and love, feel incredibly distant.  Those times, however, seem less frequent for me when I see my loved ones and lovely things as revelations of the divine.

All those colorful sunsets and good books and best friends are reminders that God is not hidden.  God does not stand afar.  God does not hide His face.  Even when we hear only our own anxious voices, God is still speaking to us.  Even when we see only our own problems, God is still appearing to us.  Even when we feel only our own fears, God is still present with us.  Just like the waves lapping at our feet.

Holy Water, Water Everywhere

Welcome

Welcome to my little piece of the Internet!  I like to imagine it as a bright room with several open windows with pale sunlight and a warm wind slipping in.  The walls are painted Pottery Barn blue, and there are fresh-cut flowers on the coffee table.  The air smells slightly of spice cake, the kind with raisins and cream cheese frosting.  Please, take off your shoes, have a seat on the sofa, can I get you anything?  Water?  Coffee?  Diet Coke?  Wine?

Welcome to Faith, Hope, Love, and Wine

I want to ask you all about your job, your family, your recent trip to Costa Rica.  And, after a few minutes of chatter, you inquire, so sweetly, so kindly, about the cake.  Well, I giggle, the cake is not quite ready.  Actually, it is nowhere close to being done.  I haven’t even started mixing the frosting yet.  Haha.  And I selected a recipe that has two frostings, one for in between the layers and one for the outside.  I know!  It was a crazy ambitious move!  I thought I had more time.  Or, rather, I knew exactly how much time I had, because I am constantly checking the clock, but I underestimated the time it would take to measure the ingredients and preheat the oven and run to the grocery store for the raisins.  So, I hope you have a few hours to sit and chat and laugh and cry, because, yeah, if we’re being honest, the cake went into the oven about two seconds before you reached my piece of the Internet and after it bakes we have to wait for it cool before we can divide it into layers and frost it.  Which reminds me, have you ever frosted the sides of a layered cake?  That sounds kinda difficult, but I’m sure we can figure it out.  We’re smart girls.  We know how to read directions and watch YouTube tutorials.  We’ll do just fine.  I’m so glad you came over.  These things, all things, are so much more enjoyable with a friend.

The sunny room on the Internet might be in my imagination, but this story is straight from real life.  January first of this year, actually.  My husband and I had friends over for a college bowl game and I waited until they arrived to start making desert.  It was actually a pie that, to my surprise, was supposed to chill overnight.  They were good friends with good manners, so they ate it half-congealed.  Lesson learned.  I wish I could tell you that I handled the whole fiasco with the grace of the amazing women who’ve gone before me, but that’s not true.  Thanks to my ever-present anxiety, it took me exactly 25 days to clean out the pie plate, which sat patiently in the freezer, half-eaten and then, completely freezer-burnt.

Fear not.  This is not a cleaning blog or a cooking blog.  I won’t (be able to) tell you how to effortlessly throw a dinner party or get your dream job or solve AIDS in Africa, even though I care very deeply about all those things.  Instead, this is a blog in which I try to hold myself accountable to a new way of living.  After a lifetime of struggling with anxiety and flirting with depression, I want to practice seeing and appreciating the holy in everything.  I believe that God reveals His grace to us every second of the day, if only we have the lens through which to spot it.  I believe that God is providing us with answers to the most perplexing problems of our day, if only we are tuned into Her frequency.

WelcomeI’m by no means the first or the last to embark on this lifestyle.  The Jesuits refer to it as being “a contemplative in action” or “armchair mysticism.”  There is a long line of saints behind us who tapped into the spirit outside the sanctuary, who regarded their entire lives as liturgy.  This blog is part of my humble effort to do the same.  I’d be honored for you to join me on the journey as we try to see the Holy One in wonderfully new ways in our incredibly ordinary lives.

And, if you stick around long enough, we might both just might get a piece of cake.

Welcome

 

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