What is a “Holy Moment”?

I don’t remember not knowing the first part of The Serenity Prayer:


               God grant me the serenity

                      to accept the things I cannot change,

               Courage to change the things I can,

               And wisdom to know the difference.


I was much older when I learned of the prayer’s association with Alcoholics Anonymous.

The phrase, “one day at a time,” which comes from the second verse, was a mantra of sorts in our household for dealing with all sorts of trials and tribulations. It went along with “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” to temper impatience. I also heard, “We won’t live here forever,” in answer to my misery over having moved in first grade to an Appalachian mining town that might as well have been the end of the Earth (we stayed four years).

All these time words: day, year, forever. Then at church I learned how God created the Universe and everything in it in a week! There was Noah with “40 days and 40 nights” of rain, Jesus fasting in the wilderness for 40 days, and Lent, which is supposed to be 40 days, but really is 46 on the calendar, because we don’t count Sundays …

When I need more time to finish something, I will tell someone – usually my kids – “give me another minute.” That may stretch, of course, into several (many?) actual minutes, which they will bust me on.

Nope, the time word I like best is “moment.” A moment can be 60 seconds, an actual minute. Or, a moment can be that ephemeral, unmeasurable span, before and after which life is not the same.

Holy moments are like that. A holy moment happens when a Bible verse read for the hundredth time reveals an entirely new meaning. It is discovering Mimosa trees in bloom nearby and traveling back 50 years on a single sniff. A holy moment is a phone call, email, or text from the right person when you really needed to know you are not alone.

Whatever its form, I know that God is in a holy moment. I can’t say why. I can’t measure it or prove it. I just know, without a doubt.

Holy moments are everywhere all the time, especially in nature. Bird calls at dawn, the smell of an impending summer rain, or watching the sun set over a body of water. The deeper I go into contemplative prayer practices, the more they abound.

This blog is about sharing some of the holy moments that I encounter and an invitation to hear about yours. Get to know me on my About page and please see my Recent Posts listed at the right. I’d love to see your comments.

~ Elizabeth Witherspoon