Della M. Hughes
[Song embedded in the text: God Is God by Steve Earle (words in bold italics). Complete lyrics here: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/steveearle/godisgod.html]
I’m taking you on my journey this morning to figure out what (W)holy Whole means. Frankly, when I chose this topic – I didn’t know what I would actually say. I like word play, puns – and a deep part of my mind and soul were focused on making meaning of life, my life – but they were not revealing it to me! I guess they sent the topic to me to mull on, which is the way it usually happens.
And – yes – this topic. My first thought was to figure out, what do these words mean? What do they mean in dictionary terms and what do they mean to me.
- (W)holy – “an obsolete form of wholly,” Wikipedia (That’s a great way to get started!)
- Wholly (These are the definitions I felt comfortable with.)
- entirely; totally; altogether
- so as to comprise or involve all.
The next word in the series is “Holey.” I make a point in my life to be appreciative and asset-based in viewing people and the world, so I knew I didn’t want to go with a “brokenness” sensibility for the “holey” part of humanness – the idea of Swiss cheese came to me then. Swiss cheese wouldn’t be Swiss cheese without the holes in it. I wouldn’t be me without the hollow spots, the gaps, even the jagged-edged places, the parts that hurt. So, when I looked up “holey,” I finally came to this definition that works for me.
- Holey – Dictionary.com
- a hollow place in a solid body or mass
Now, on to “whole.” Again, I was careful in the choice of definitions – these I particularly liked.
- Whole – Dictionary.com
- pertaining to all aspects of human nature
- a thing complete in itself, or comprising all its parts or elements
Finally, when I looked up “holy,” here’s some of what I found:
inspiring fear, awe, or grave distress: The director, when angry, is a holy terror. (Dictionary.com)
- Regarded as deserving special respect or reverence: The pursuit of peace is our holiest quest. (The Free Dictionary)
I could go with “deserving special respect,” but that wasn’t enough. To me “holy” and “sacred” are closely aligned. Here’s my definition of “sacred.”
- Sacred (Dictionary.dmh) – the presence of God/ the Spirit/Love
All of these words – even with my paring down and selecting definitions – how do I put them together?
The holes, the gaps, the jagged edges are a part of my Whole being. They are worthy of respect. Embracing them and all the parts of my human nature is an act of wanting to be Wholly Whole and Holy Whole – allowing the Spirit, Love – the sacred define and power my human beingness.
You can probably get the drift of how I was beginning to think about (W)holy Whole – this was in early June. Then, in short order a series of events happened –
June 12 – the Orlando USA massacre in a gay bar – 49 killed; 53 injured
June 15 – 19 Yazidi girls burned to death by ISIS for refusing to have sex with them
June 28 – suicide bombing in Istanbul, Turkey – 44 killed; 239 injured
July 3 – suicide bombing in Baghdad, Iraq – 308 killed; 246 injured
July 5 – Alton Sterling, Baton Rouge USA, shot by a police officer, died
July 6 – Philandro Castile, Minneapolis USA, shot by a police officer, died
July 7 – 5 police officers in Dallas USA shot and killed by a gunman
July 14 – Nice, France truck massacre – 84 horrifically killed, 202 injured
July 15 – coup in Istanbul, Turkey – 265 dead
Somewhere in this morass of terrorist and shocking deaths, I listened to Joan Baez sing one of my favorite songs, Steve Earle’s God Is God. I knew immediately that this song would inform me more about where my mind and soul wanted me to go with this topic, (W)holy Whole – and it had to include how to embrace the pain of these gut-wrenching events (holey) and allow the holy (sacred) wash over me, to be the balm for my holes when they feel like gaping wounds, to give me hope.
Sing, “God Is God” – with an amendment at the end, adding, God is Love.”
SING WHOLE SONG ONCE THROUGH
I’ve been singing this song to myself every day since mid-June. And here’s how it has helped me make some sense of these recent events…
And as our fate unfurls,
Every day that passes I’m sure about a little bit less
I have been flat out so sad and so scared by hate and terrorism taking more of a hold in the world; of civilians being targets – even though I abhor war and don’t want military personnel losing their lives – this is beyond my comprehension. Scared of the anger, hatred – racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism being stoked to control, to dominate, to dominate.
I believe in prophecy
Some folks see things not everybody can see
And, once in a while, they pass the secret along to you and me
During the violence of the past two months, other significant events occurred. Here are a few examples. Hear these voices.
- § June 5 – Muhammed Ali died – “He [or She] Who is Not Courageous enough to Take Risks Will Accomplish Nothing in Life.” “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – Then I can Achieve it.”
- June 12 – Loretta Lynch said in the aftermath of Orlando, “We stand with you to say the good in the world far outweighs the evil…and that our most effective response to terror and hatred is compassion, unity, and love.”
- June 27 – Pat Summit (the winningiest coach in basketball) dies at 64. “Attitude lies somewhere between emotion and logic. It’s that curious mix of optimism and determination that enables you to maintain a positive outlook and to continue plodding in the face of the most adverse circumstances.” And when she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers when she was 59, she said, “God doesn’t take things away to be cruel. He takes things away to make room for other things. He takes things away to lighten us. He takes things away so we can fly.”
- July 2 – Elie Wiesel died, “[Hu]Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other.” “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity.”
- July 9 – Joe Biden (to Stanford rape victim), “I do not know your name, but your words are forever seared in my soul.”
Just another lesson
Maybe someone’s watching and wondering what I got
Maybe this is why I’m here on Earth, and maybe not
President Obama called for us not to panic in light of the violent events of the past few weeks.
Yesterday, a totally serendipitous event occurred (July 16) I was out in my car briefly and listening at 5:45 pm to NPR’s “All Things Considered.” There was an interview with Stephen Pinker, Harvard professor of psychology, who has written a book on the history of violence in the world. He said that over the past 25 years, the incidence of violence in the world is going down. There are fewer wars, executions, murders and so forth…Yes, terrorists use tactics that are designed to get attention, to create horror, to instill fear, so we feel that there is an increase. It’s fair to say that the trend has peaked slightly in the last five years with the Syrian war. However, we should not assume that society is falling apart. President Obama is right about not panicking.
Terrorists, hate-mongers dominate, if we panic, lose hope; if we give in.
To reiterate, Pinker said, “We should not assume that society is falling apart.”
So, Maybe someone’s watching and wondering what I got…
Sometimes I get so tired of standing up and standing with – it’s gotten so overwhelming. And yet, I am one who has benefitted from the support of those, of you who are “Standing on the Side of Love.”
I’ve been making the jokes since my 20’s – you know them, if there is a certain outcome of an election, I’ll move to Canada. Nova Scotia is beckoning us…
What is society anyway? Society is us. Society is us.
I receive the blessings
That every day on Earth’s another chance to get it right
Let this little light of mine shine and rage against the night
Two weeks ago, I awoke in the middle of the night – with that little light of mine…raging against the night…
No matter what happens with elections or stunning violence, I cannot stop believing, I cannot pick up and go – I must stand and bear witness, stand in unity, stand in love. I must have the courage to transform my SCARED to SACRED, to keep hope alive, to act on my values, beliefs, principles. Every day on Earth is another chance to get it right… This is what being (W)holy Whole and Holy Whole means to me. I want to be able to say, “Here I am with all of my parts together, to stand with – in love, compassion, unity; this is why I am here on Earth.”
Join me in singing the chorus to God Is God – and if, God isn’t the right word for you, substitute your own. We’ll sing “I believe in God, God is God” twice and then “I believe in God, God is Love” three times. If you want to “drum” along, please do!
And I believe in God, and God is God
I believe in God, and God is God
I believe in God, and God is Love
I believe in God, and God is Love
I believe in God, and God is Love