In the Old Testament, the Temple of Jerusalem feels a bit to me like Russian nesting dolls. Each new layer is smaller than the one before and rather harder to open. The core, that bowling pin doll that is solid instead of hollow, was the Holy of Holies, that place where God and the High Priest hung out and everyone else was Not Allowed.
If you ask me, the high priest has a pretty miserably stressful job.
I found this note about the Holy of Holies and the dolls in my desk, half of an entry written months ago when I was super stressed out about a terrible horrible no good very bad day at work; somewhat unsurprisingly, I still find it relevant. In that entry I was yelling at God because I wanted Him to fix things. In this, I’m not yelling. But I’m still asking.
Here’s the thing; I thank you, Reader, for your support and thoughts and prayers and reading (and don’t feel badly if you’ve skipped most of those, I promise your reading is still enough) while I’m healing from this ear surgery. Unfortunately, there’s been a complication—in the worst voicemail ever, my surgeon’s office informed me that they’d “found something,” which of course I imagined to be imminent death but which turned out to be an infection in my ear canal. So that hurts, pretty much all the time, and I have more meds and a part of me is freaking out because I always go to worst case scenarios. Worst case scenario (I mean, other than actually dying from the infection backtracking to my brain—I don’t play when it comes to being a pessimist, Reader) is that the infection unsettles the graft and then my body attacks the prosthesis, and that just wouldn’t be cool at all. I want to be better, I want to be whole, I want to be able to go swimming and stop taking pain meds.
I want to hear.
I also want a whole lot of other things, especially after the great conference last week in which I felt like I could breathe for once, like I was doing not only what I wanted to do but what God has shaped me to be doing—I want to be in a job I care about, I want to stop living two lives, I want to stand in the sancta sanctorum without all of this mess of being in the outer courts. And what God keeps quietly trying to tell me is that He tore the curtain; there aren’t dolls that separate those spaces anymore.
There was a meeting today held by the folks of the disability services department here on campus surrounding what faculty can do to be helpful and understanding to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. There was a lot I didn’t know in terms of how you can work around that—the programming and software to do real-time captioning alone is super cool. But so much of it I did know, so much of it was affirmation of the things I’ve experienced in working through this oddity of being momentarily disabled, of having one foot in a whole culture. It was affirming and yet frightening; I hold tightly to the hope that this is indeed momentary, that I will regain hearing, that I will be fine. To listen to a student who knows he is going deaf and can’t do anything to stop that be cheerful and helpful and outgoing was a hell of a thing; he’s in choir, he with his hearing aids and his weekly chemo to slow the fact that his body is attacking his own ear canals. That is its own holy space, for him to keep on living a life—that is the ultimate hope, really, to keep on living.
And I had a great revelation/realization on Wednesday about some things that are very important to me, and it made my living room holy for that moment, a holy of holies of being in the Presence of God Who smiled that I finally figured that out and decided to try living it.
And there was a great lunch on Tuesday with Interpreter and my deacon and music leader (they need names, I know, I’m running short on time at the moment, sorry) that involved the fact that I will get to that next job, that next career, that being able to breathe, and they support that and are pushing me to be truly mindful of how that will work and that is good. So it was a holy place at that high-top table in a little cafe, and later that night it was a holy place in a bar with another dear friend of mine who told me to stop being a putz about how people want to be my friends.
These are all holy places, holiest of places because they have that aspect of what the original did—God is there. I guess we now all have the high priest’s stressful job, in a way, but the thing about deleting the rings of the Temple is not to cheapen the incredibly “other” aspect of the core within but to let that change the rest of the world outside. It is something else to realize the power of a moment in a holy place, whether it be somewhat obvious like a cathedral or rather less so like a lecture hall. It is that spiritual shiver of ghost fingers crossing your temple, the non-physical air that brushes against you and chuckles without sound in the way only the Spirit can because you are seen, you are known, you are present as God wants you to be.
And you don’t even have to wear pomegranates.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20, KJV)