Unvarnished

I have been trudging uphill this week–thighs straining, calves protesting, asking myself, “Do I actually need to keep going?” and muttering to myself, “I’m much better at swimming.”

Metaphorically speaking, that is. (Except for the swimming part; I am much better at swimming than other physical activities.) In the absence of other input, I’m telling myself, “Yes, keep going; what else did you have in mind to do?” A home point.

But I have been rebelling (?) against schedule…or, more accurately, checking in on schedule and finding my self as a third-grader sitting on the floor with one shoe untied and the other halfway across the room. Clearly not an inspired moment! So I let myself sit; maybe she’ll pull herself together and get the other shoe. Maybe she’ll ask for shoe-tying help.

Maybe she’ll listen to a podcast that will get her alongside herself and distract her while she ties her own shoes. Like James Martin — Finding God in All Things by On Being Studios on #SoundCloud .

So C listens to On Being all the time since forever, but today’s listen came rather from My Sweetie trying to fish a Jesuit joke out from the tail end. Father James Martin, SJ…we are all about the Society of Jesus chez Soques. Particularly the jokey parts! 

You won’t be surprised that most of the hour-long podcast is not joke-telling, though there’s a lovely dose of joy in the middle. It covers, in fact, all sorts of topics–kind of like the title, isn’t that tidy? And I’ve listened to it, maybe even all of it? before. But today I noticed new things as I mixed spices, sugar, and egg whites. 

My word of the day seems to be “holy.” As in:

“In order to become holy, you don’t become someone else; you just become yourself.” –Fr. Martin, quoting one of his spiritual directors

Or:

“Holiness draws us […]. It’s one way God has of drawing us closer to God’s self.” –Fr. Martin

So, I think: the more authentic, the more stripped down to bare metal I am–while still being in relationship with God!–the more I am God’s person, the more holy.

As I carefully turned baking pecans, to better bind the spices to the nutmeats, I pulled a chain of word-meanings out of my mind’s drawers:

Origin and etymology of HOLY: Middle English, from Old English hālig; akin to Old English hāl whole — more at whole

Origin and etymology of WHOLE: Middle English hool healthy, unhurt, entire, from Old English hāl; akin to Old High German heil healthy, unhurt, Old Norse heill, Old Church Slavic cělŭ

Which makes a lot of sense to me. I have learned that the more stripped-down my emotional and mental life stays, the healthier I am. I relate in cleaner, more life-giving ways; I care for myself more appropriately. To be healthy is to be whole, my ownself and not some other, nor some twisting or clouded version of what I might be.

To be whole brings me closer to being holy. It keeps me authentic–lined up between my insides and my outsides, my thoughts, my heart, my actions all moving together. And authentic was where Fr. Martin crossed into holiness: he was discussing Pope Francis, mentioning that His Holiness’ magnetic holiness springs in part, he thinks, from Pope Francis’ deep authenticity.

  

This week I have little except self-honesty and ingratitude. There’s nothing wrong even though nothing feels right; I sit with my moodiness and my muteness and my wrestling with impatience. Which reminds me of Jacob and the divine one, though I can’t decide who’s playing which role, so I don’t know who’s about to dislocate a hip.

I have little but the authenticity I refuse to let go. 

Maybe that is entirely how I am set apart for God’s use, how God makes me holy. I can at least remind myself that that, in and of itself, can be enough–even as I try to stop telling God how God’s supposed to use me. Why not? What else do I have in mind to do?

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