There is a Clarissa Pinkola Estes quote I love—”If you cannot make something better or different, then make it holy.” It reminds me of something a colleague of mine, Nisha Moodly, posted recently, “this (virus) isn’t happening for the best; this is happening, and we will make the best of it.” I like these ideas because they don’t bypass the fact that this time is incredibly hard.
This is hard for all of us. Whether you, personally, know people who are immune-compromised or dying, or everyone you know is 100% healthy; whether you live in an area that requires intense shelter-in-place or quarantine protocol, or are experiencing a large amount of freedom; whether you are going through this process alone, with a partner, or with children; whether you have lost your job, are working from home, or are still leaving your house to go to work. We are, all of us, experiencing this pandemic. We are all citizens of the world. We are connected to the intensity of this time, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.
There is no need to compare your circumstances to anyone else’s. There is no need to feel guilty if your family is well & comfortable, and there is no need to feel ashamed if you are struggling just to make it through the day. This is a hard time for all of us, as one human family.
I personally know people who have lost their jobs, and others whose businesses are flourishing. I know some people who are separated from their children due to quarantine, and others who are now sheltering in place with spouses they are in the midst of divorcing. I have friends who are living in a half-finished home, and others who now have the time to plant the epic gardens they have always dreamed of. No matter your circumstances, it may feel very hard to stay home, to have restricted access to things that were previously open, or to feel the collective grief of the loss of loved ones around the globe. While we may not be able to make it better, or change it anytime soon, how do we make this moment holy?
That is a very personal question and it requires us to expand our concept of holy to something much bigger than what we do on a yoga mat, at an altar, in meditation, or when we can practice silence & stillness. When we expand beyond what we habitually imagine is holy, then we can start to make each moment holy. The beauty of practicing in this way of ‘making it holy’, is that it inherently recognizes that our capacity to make a moment holy arises new in every moment.
For example, maybe I grouched at my kids – in the next moment I can pause & take a breath, and turn towards making this new moment holy. There is no need to judge whether the last moment (or hour) was holy – simply turn towards this moment, with the genuine question of , “how can I make this moment holy?” When my partner hands me a piece of pizza & then calls the dog to come sit on me, so I can feel the grounding energy of his weight on my body – how do I appreciate my partner in a holy way? When my kids are arguing over a toy – what word, or gesture, or breath will make the moment, not necessarily better, or different, but holy? When things are as I want them to be, holiness through joy & gratitude come more easily. When things are not as I want them to be, how do I actually make this moment holy? Without attempting to fix, or change, but as an act of worship. This is not a place to blame shame or judge ourselves—holy is subjective and personal. Maybe you find holiness in the humor of the memes coming out of Facebook and Instagram. Maybe you find holy in dark humor. Maybe you find holy in the most subtle attention to beauty. Maybe others find holy differently than you do. It’s not our business whether other people are making things holy or not – moment to moment, we are invited to make each one holy ourselves, in our own way.
I woke up this morning and I put on these special earrings that were given to me by my friend Rafael, who passed away in a horrible tragedy several years ago. He had a teaching—he used to give out these little rubber chickens and he called it the chicken shit teaching. The whole idea was that everyone wanted powerful and bold animal teachers – like a lion or cheetah or cobra – and he said his animal teacher was the chicken. The chicken, he said, reminded him that he could do brave & boldly loving things even when he felt like a chicken shit. I still have the one he gave me 5 years ago, as a reminder that it’s not when things are going well & things are easy that matters (most); courage is the result of us not knowing, and things not being easy, and still taking bold & loving action. It’s an act of bravery to meet the moment – just as it is – and be willing to see what we can do to make it holy.
The other piece about Rafael came to me through a shared teacher named Teo Alfero. He said after Rafael died, he connected with his spirit in ceremony and that at the moment of his death he was dancing. I don’t know if that’s true, or what I even believe about the moment of death and I also believe Teo because of who I know him to be and because of who I know Rafael to be. If I never knew anyone who was going to die dancing, it would be Rafael.
We are being called to meet death as we live. Can we meet it dancing? We may lose people that are close to us, these are realities that we do need to face – with courage and with love. Can we meet these moments of death – our own or the people we love – with holiness and dancing? And, perhaps more importantly, can we meet our lives in that way right now, whether we’re in quarantine or not? How do we bring this holy dancing to the way we live now, to however long this particular phase lasts, and then, only forever?
Want more details? Watch the full video below: