I remember this like it happened this morning. I was 17. My girlfriend Dory and i were walking in a park near my home in Montreal’s west island. It was after supper, the fall evening warm and at that stage just before darkness. The boards of the hockey rinks had already been set up, waiting for the first freeze.
We were walking hand in hand, talking. There was a pause. I was usually more careful about what i said out loud, even back then. But for some reason i just blurted it out, a kind of intimate confession. “Sometimes,” i said, “i feel holy.” And it was true: At times a distinct feeling of holiness washed over me, more like a warm breeze than a blinding light, and i just knew without having to know that this was something called holiness and it was a gift, gratis, from the universe. It felt like something very special, but i never talked about it until i uttered that one sentence to Dory. I’ve never written about it since, until now.
Dory, bless her, laughed — not meanly — and poked fun at me. She thought i was trying to be either funny or pretentious. To my surprise i didn’t mind the laughter. I found i hadn’t really expected her, or anybody for that matter, to understand what was a private matter — private not because it’s personal, but because it’s incommunicable. Nothing more was said and the moment passed.
So too, gradually, did my spells of holiness. I didn’t feel that way at all after i entered university, or when i began to work and travel in the world. Too much else to do, i suppose: no time or importance for holiness.
But lately, that feeling has been visiting me again. Not often, and i don’t even remember exactly where or when. But i distinctly remember recognizing the feeling as the same one i was talking about back on the teenaged walk. And i’m glad it has begun to visit me again. Makes me think all this seeking is worthwhile.
Toss wisdom and holiness onto the garbage heap
and everyone will be better off.