“Holiness is not a personal achievement, It's an emptiness,” says theologian Brennan Manning, “holiness is an emptiness you discover in yourself. Instead of resenting it, you accept it, and it becomes the free space where God can create anew.”
Please read “God” as shorthand. For years, I understood to mean “God” as “love,” as in 1 John 4:8 and 16: “God is love.” Coming out of difficult orthodoxy of my childhood religious experiences, god is love worked for me. I think it works for many. How many look past the bindings of orthodoxy and just say love? Even when love is predicated on dogma, like love the sinner and not the sin, many still slide into the love paradigm.
But those rules need not be my holy.
When I resigned myself to stop seeking personal achievement in ‘God as Love” and felt true emptiness, that is when I came to know love as Goddess. Specifically the Goddess as the immanent divine who dwells within the heart and flows in, among, and around us. That generative Goddess was more interested in “possibility:” try on Goddess as “possibility.”
Here's that Brennan Manning quote again: “Holiness is not a personal achievement. It's an emptiness you discover in yourself. Instead of resenting it, you accept it, and it becomes the free space where possibility can create anew.”
What might it mean to truly believe in the possibility of love, the possibility of justice, the possibility of peace? And, yes the possibility of holiness?
It is so rare to see holy juxtaposed within the pagan community. The only real known to me is the popular Feri prayer “Holy Mother.” For the contemporary Pagan, the word holy seems taboo, maybe even too Christian? But holiness, from the Anglo-Saxon: “hal” or “hale,” means “whole” – as in wholeness, that which yields wholeness and health. Wholeness and health is so alive in our community and in many ways seeking to be whole is what brings us together. So lately, I have wondered, is Goddess the wholeness of possibility?
For me, Goddess is that emptiness that becomes a god-shaped space, the space of possibility. The space I call holy. Holy is the Earth in her life giving splendor. Holy is the silence that is left when all I have is breath. Holy when we take time to nurture the quiet and invite the emptiness. When we stop and listen, with nothing else to do in the moment, and nowhere to go. Holiness is not a personal achievement. It's the opposite of how we frame achievement. Holiness is the sweetness of making time to slow down, to sit and watch, to contemplate and reflect. Holiness is brought to life in emptiness.
As the Pagan community grows, and leans into the challenging issues of this day, how we walk immanent in the world as vessels of Goddess as containers of the holy feels pressing to me. We as a community have become more visible, more mainstream, and even more religious. The world watches as we move into sacred through public discourse. How we align and center our hearts to invite the possibility of love, justice, and peace. Are we ready to invite holiness? Let Goddess be the generative breath, and feel our parts come into alignment in that god-shaped space. What if we choose to cherish that space as holy emptiness? With attention and devotion, with spaciousness, and possibility to create new? Breathe into Holy Emptiness?
Are you breathing?
That is the breath, that hale-whole-wholeness-health-holy emptiness. Not personal achievement, but emptiness: the emptiness we discover in ourselves, the space where Goddess can create anew.
Let's breathe together again. Just Breathe and just be holy.