In these final days leading up to Christmas, I spent a several hours in a hospital waiting room. It wasn’t the same maternity ward Joseph was searching for, dashing all over Bethlehem in the middle of the night with Mary in tow. Though my dad used to spend a lot of time in a waiting room a la seven kids, a waiting room was where he, my older sister Colleen and I were camped this week as we waited for my mom in surgery. My seventy-something mother, bless her soul, had a three hour rotator cuff surgery. Get this: she injured her shoulder at physical therapy. She’ll be going back to physical therapy for physical therapy on the shoulder she injured at physical therapy! You been in a waiting room lately?
Growing up Catholic, I walked into a lot of old churches and cathedrals. The lingering smells of incense, the glow of red votive candles and the overwhelming presence of Jesus hanging on the cross front and center above the altar made it very clear that this sacred space was a holy place. You don’t always get that walking into minimalist Protestant churches with bare walls or big screens in movie theater-like auditoriums. In Catholic churches, the idea or should I say “the sense of” holy permeates the place. When you walk into St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, you know you’re in a holy place. You’re not at the Regal 21 screen multiplex.
Holy and the idea of holy is a word that most of us just don’t get. For many years in my spiritual journey, holiness has often seemed like a long walk in the desert with no real destination in sight.