…but fulfilled life is more than standing on holy ground. It is more than recognizing we are standing on holy ground. It is more than knowing that all ground is holy. At some point it is essential that we realize we are holy ground. We are holy ground. You and I, your neighbor, your partner, your children, your colleagues, the stranger who passes by your gate, and your enemy.
We are holy ground. We are more than bundles of protoplasm with some optional relationship with The Holy, as if holiness resides outside ourselves. In the Judeo-Christian story, humanity is literally ground. The mythic language we use about the first Being to be formed talks about the elements of earth and water and air. We even call that original Being, adamah (earthling) because it is made from earth. And the sacred story goes on to tell us that all beings, all formed of earth, are imprinted indelibly with the image of Creator-Creation-Creating. The words of the funeral service tell us that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Because…
…we are holy ground.
Last week, I invited us to look around and see that all ground is holy. But we know that not all ground is the same; some is good for one crop, some for another. This week, I invite you to ask, “For what am I the rich and fertile (or dry, or barren, or overused, or rocky, or flooded) soil”? Then to ask, “For what harvest do I give the nutrients and the space of my life? What seed and grain do I nurture and sustain and gather and offer to the universe?”
We are holy ground. You are holy ground.
Lughnasadh is the season of the later harvests, but it is also the beginning of fallow time. We receive the physical gifts of the earth to sustain us through the months when the fields rest. Then it is our turn to bless the earth by preparing her to be renewed and refreshed. We turn under the stalks and dead leaves to aerate and enrich the soil, to feed the ground as the ground feeds us. That preparation still lies ahead, and so this is a good moment to consider with what we will gift the ground – not only the literal ground of this beloved planet, but the ground of our being. What will we turn under and allow to die, to decompose, to release precious resources so that new life can appear?
How will we renew and refresh our holiness, to insure it remains fertile to bring forth abundantly next year, and the year after?
If we are truly holy ground (and we are), what choices do we make about our bodies, about the vessels which hold mind and heart and spirit? If we are holy ground (and we are), what choices do we make about the nutrients we seek, the seeds we welcome, and the experiences we allow to break us open?
To be sure, we are not totally in control of life. There are experiences that change us, that carve great furrows in our souls, about which we have no choice. But knowing that some things will come to us unexpectedly, painfully, perhaps toxically, does not imply that we are helpless victims in the face of circumstance. This week, I invite us to consider what we can do, the choices we can make. Some of those choices necessarily mean exercising control, and others require us to relinquish control.
I cannot insure that I never get cancer, even if I have no genetic predisposition to it. Mutations happen. However, I can choose not to smoke, to eat a healthy diet, to wear sunscreen, to have routine cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies…because my physical body is the way I am able to express and manifest the gifts entrusted to me, and keeping my body as strong and healthy as I can is just good sense. In the same way, I cannot sail through life without ever stumbling, without ever being hurt, without facing loss or dis-ease. But I can choose not to become enmeshed with toxic (angry, biased, self-righteous) attitudes or thoughts. I can choose to laugh rather than to whine. I can choose to give rather than to hoard. I can choose to welcome rather than to alienate, to love rather than to fear, to forgive rather than seek vengeance, so that my spiritual and psychological and mental health is as good as it can be, too. So that the harvest from the ground of my being will be bounteous instead of strangled by weeds, or stunted by lack of light.
You are holy ground. I am holy ground. Our vocation is to produce holy fruit for the common good. Our choices matter. And our grace to live with the accidents and circumstances that are dealt us matters. May this week be one of wise choices and steadfast grace, which lead to yet wiser choices and more abundant grace in the months ahead.
I leave you with the words of J. R.R. Tolkein from The Return of the King:
It is not our part
to master all the tides of the world,
but to do what is in us
for the succor of those years
wherein we are set,
uprooting the evil in the fields that we know,
so that those who live after
may have clean earth to till.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2005, 2014 Immram Chara, LLC