The hubs and I were on a mission yesterday. We wanted to find spring.
There is a stream just north of our house where we often meet a friend for trail running adventures.
We drove up the gravel road next to the stream, parked, and listened. Sure enough, before too long, we heard the sound of wood frogs chirping and saw them splashing in nearby vernal pools.
Skunk cabbage was up, its vibrant red leaves slowly unfurling in the warm spring sunshine.
We found the beginning of spring in this delightful location.
As we drove back to the paved road, however, a disturbing sight met our eyes. Someone had dumped several old tube-style television sets by the side of the road. Their plastic cases spilled down the stream bank.
Further along, more discarded televisions and tires sprawled in the parking lot.
The sight made me think of this quote by Wendell Berry: “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.”
Someone had desecrated this sacred place.
Here is the thing about the sacred: it can be seen.
There is a story in the Bible where Moses asks to see God’s glory. God responded, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
God placed Moses in a cleft of rock and put His hand over Moses’ eyes, then removed it as He passed by, so that Moses got just a glimpse of His back parts.
Just a glimpse, then it was all over.
God cannot be seen.
But holiness can be seen.
Holiness is all around us.
Holiness is in the sunrise and the clouds. It’s in the butterflies that hide in crevices in tree bark during cold winter days, then emerge to flit about in the thin sunshine of early spring.
The clear water cascading over rocks in a stream, throwing off light in all directions, always moving, always new, never-ending is proof that the sacred exists in our world.
Holiness is in the scent of pine needles when they crunch underfoot. It’s in the plush carpet-soft feeling you notice when you walk on them.
It’s in the turkey vultures floating lazily overhead, tilting their wings this way and that, seeming to wobble in their attempts to stay aloft.
Holiness is in the haunting song the male veery (a kind of wood thrush) sings when he is looking for his mate.
I witnessed holiness in the wood frogs’ chirps and in the variegated leaves of the skunk cabbage.
It is there for us to appreciate.
Or to desecrate.
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