Her name is Trudy, and she has a smile that could light up a room. She is sitting next to me at the teppanyaki table, and we exchange a glance when the waiter gets her drink order wrong. Soon, we are chatting. Turns out, her family lost their home in the April storms. Gone…just like that. They couldn’t stand being cooped up — all five of them — in the tiny trailer the government provided for them, so Trudy and her husband are taking a well-deserved night off, away from their kids, the youngest of whom is just six. They still have nightmares about the tornado.

It has occurred to me lately that holiness is not something that can be achieved in stasis; it must be worked on daily, and with great concentration. It is an action verb. Although it is all well and good to care about others, unless that care is backed up with concrete action, the work of holiness will not be done.

This prospect scares me. I honestly can’t see myself out on the streets, ministering to the homeless or in a hospital, holding the hands of the dying. As much as I feel I ought to be doing these things, I’m held back by my own inadequacies. I’m not much of a nurturer. I’m more of a contemplative, a scholar, a thinker. And it occurs to me that this stands as something of a barrier to holiness.

And then it struck me. “Pray” may not sound like an action verb, but it is. As are “listen,” “empathize,” “smile” and — dare I say it? — “write.” I may not be cut out for the same kinds of holiness as someone else is, but perhaps God made me just right after all…with my own avenues to holiness.

Back to Trudy: She thanks me for listening and calls me a “good person.” I feel blessed to have met her and tell her I will keep her in my prayers. And I have. Because holiness is job #1, and like all jobs, it requires my most tenacious and heartfelt labor. Funny thing though…it doesn’t feel like labor. In fact, it feels a whole lot like joy.

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