The true dwelling of the holy

something in the here and now

true identity of the holyThis being Advent, that period roughly between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m thinking a lot of theology. As it turns out, fillyjonk wrote about what I have experienced and what I believe.

“The ‘true dwelling of the holy’ – I was thinking today of how there seem to be competing ideas in Christianity that I’ve seen; where some groups within it are bent on withdrawing from the ‘”world’ as much as possible, and, I guess, waiting on either the Second Coming* or the Afterlife, because that’s the Kingdom of Heaven, and then things will be right.

“And others – and this is more traditionally the congregations I’ve been a part of – have tried to do what they can to bring a little bit of the Kingdom of Heaven here and now. And I admit, with all the loss in my life lately, and some sad old doubts reawakening….well, if maybe the here and now is all we have, shouldn’t we strive to make it as good for everyone around us, and ourselves as well? All we know we have is this day, and so it probably behooves us to be both happy and kind in it.”

The Dustbury connection

I should note that fillyjonk lost her father this year. She was a friend and follower of the late blogger Dustbury. In fact, I became aware of her blog from him.

“(*At one point in my childhood, we briefly attended a church where a lot of the members were really hot on the “End Times” ideas, where the faithful would be raptured and the rest of us would be left to wait out the horrible things that were to come… I admit as an anxious child, that thing scared me a lot – what if I was one of the people who realized one day ‘Hey where is this person? And that person?’ and then realized with dawning horror that they had been raptured away and I hadn’t been ‘good enough.'”

I had received that Rapture message, which ultimately drove me AWAY from the church, ironically.

“And based on my Bible reading as an adult, that doesn’t seem a terribly Biblical thing, or at least, it’s a stretch of stuff John of Patmos wrote, but….I remember being uncomfortable with it as a child. And I would so much rather be the person working in a food bank or welcoming a newcomer or doing something in the here and now to try to make someone’s life here and now better, and not to build up Good Place points for myself so much as….well, because I would like other people to do the same for me.)”

That Matthew 25 message of feeding the hungry, et al., is what helped draw me back to the church. That is, for me, the “true dwelling of the holy.”

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

3 thoughts on “The true dwelling of the holy”

  1. Thanks for the quote!

    I think all the loss of 2019 has made me think much more seriously about some things I maybe didn’t think that much about in the recent past. I don’t know, there’s something both terrible and wonderful about that. I will say I haven’t confronted my own eventual mortality as seriously as I have in the wake of my dad’s death. It’s strange – I lost the three grandparents I knew, and while I was sad about it, it didn’t have the same impact that losing a parent did. I don’t know if that’s because of the difference between parents and grandparents, or the fact that I lost my last grandparent at 20 – when I was still very young – and I lost my dad at 50, in fact, the screening colonoscopy I was to have was cancelled because I was in Illinois after his death…

    One thing I’ve lost a little in the past months is the ability to say “I can’t do a lot to help things, but what little I can do counts” because of the roaring of “someday you will be gone from this Earth and forgotten” roaring in my spiritual ears. I need to be able to get back to the idea that the little things still count, even if they are very little.

  2. I identify as Matthew 25 Christian. While I would not consider myself a progressive Christian I do like the concept of progressive Christian scholars particularly Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan that Jesus established the kingdom of God on earth during his lifetime. There is no future kingdom it is here and we should strive to live our best and most Christian lives in the here and now and not in anticipation of a kingdom to come

  3. First off, thank you Roger for checking in with me. I will try to write you an email soon, but I wanted to catch up on what was going on with you first, hence my reading this (which I love!). I appreciate how caring and kind you have always been to me. Thank you!

    Now for a quick message for fillyjonk, who needs help to believe that little and quick kindnesses matter:

    I grew up in a violent place and had a group of people who for several years tried to destroy my family to prevent my parents from testifying in the trial of the murderer of a baby next door to us. Why years? Because the crime was so horrific that they struggled to find anyone who would attempt to defend the man. During this time the people who were after us had people in various places- including the post office and a hospital- helping them to get to us. Many of the details they had in order to hurt me and my family came from the woman I had believed as a young teen, was my best friend. Many people acting out of fear, gossip, and prejudice increased the pain and fear we were experiencing during this time. I hate that time of my life and find very little good in it. It left me with a deep lack of trust of people that persisted over locations and decades until I lived in a town of people who were kind in very small ways, every day. Don’t get me wrong- there were crabby people in the mix- but per capita, the ratio of kind interactions were the highest I have ever known.

    When I first got there, I was struggling to lug my suitcase to my sister’s apartment. Neither one of us can drive because of a hereditary eye disease and for me, because of the added difficulty of a heart problem. A young man asked if he could help me with my bag. It wasn’t easy for me to trust him with my suitcase for many reasons, but the reality was, I knew I couldn’t do it on my own, even with my sister’s help, and I didn’t have an extra-scary feeling about it, so I let him take my bag. He carried it for almost a mile and up a flight of stairs, then left quickly and cheerfully. I never saw him again. He reminded me of a college classmate of mine who was deaf, who had held his umbrella over my head as I walked when it was pouring rain while I had an umbrella of my own strapped to my wrist unopened because I was too weak at the time to do anything other than walk to my next class. Like this young man, he did it and was gone. It wasn’t a pick-up, it was purely being kind. During those few months a man I couldn’t see handed my sister and me a pocket flashlight as we struggled to make our way home from the university in the dark on an evening we had to be out later. People were cheerful and pleasant at the front desk of the library and at the grocery store. People held doors open for me and for others- the others part mattering, because sometimes it was too difficult for me when people were kind to me, but I could somehow absorb the kindness if they were kind to someone else. People said “Hi!” with a smile. A lady with significant problems of her own taught my sister how to cook some Southern recipes for foods she was missing and couldn’t find there. Some kindnesses were a matter of seconds. At most they took an hour. I didn’t even realize what was happening or when the tipping point came. I only know that one day, when someone I didn’t know came to help my sister and me across a busy, dangerous street, the first thought that came to my mind wasn’t, “How is this person going to hurt me and my family?” That thought was still present, but it wasn’t the first thought, and that was a milestone for me.

    Big kindnesses can be difficult to accept, especially if you have been hurt badly or by people you trust. Little kindnesses tend to find a way in. The problem with that though, is that they often affect us in ways that we don’t necessarily know are affecting us at the time, in ways that we don’t realize what the final consequence will be. I wish I could go back and thank every person who was kind to me in the smallest way simply to be kind over the course of those years, and let them know that they were part of healing what seemed un-healable to me. Because there was no way they could know. Like I said, with many of them they weren’t even kind to me, they were kind to a stranger in front of me.

    Kindness opens hearts. Even a small match when lit can give off a great amount of light when it is dark everywhere else. I promise you if you pray to ask for an opportunity to be kind to someone else every day, and act on that opportunity when it comes- especially when it is small- you will make every place you walk sacred, if only to God. But remember, he knows those that wander into and out of your paths, some of whom will realize long after the fact and without being able to tell you how you helped heal the un-healable in them. I can’t thank the people who did it for me, other than to help you to know that the small kindnesses that you do, matter, and for me to be as kind as much and as often as I can wherever I happen to be. I still remember the older teen who left his friends in a grocery store parking lot to come up to my mother to say, “You have a cute daughter, ma’am,” before immediately returning to them. I felt awkward and unattractive at the time and it didn’t eliminate those feelings, but it helped me to be kinder to myself each time I remembered it through all the years that followed. You matter. Your goodness- “seen” and “unseen”- matters.

    Roger, please see that fillyjonk sees this if you can. Much love to you and wishes for a Very, Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones! Love, Melanie

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