Friday, November 11, 2022

Blessed and Holy

With its mixed media delights, November is Gratitude Month, a time to pause and reflect on being thankful for life's blessings. When Fran Haley, teacher-writer slicer, introduced the word holy as the prompt for the Spiritual Journey Thursday community (SJT) this month, I paused to ponder the meaning of the word in my life. Holy is a word I learned during  catechism studies as a child. As I grew, I remained in faith and heard the word holy repeated often but I never intently considered the significance of this small word. With this in mind, I searched for quotes that would bring clarity. I found one written by a revered Jewish theologian and philosopher, Abraham Joshua Heschel"Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy."  

I have tried repeatedly to "just be", meditate quietly, and pause often to find small delights  to be thankful for but my impatient side often has me racing toward a lengthy to-do list. It is difficult to just be when there is an ominous pressure surrounding me. Piles of papers dealing with household tasks and my son's disability case detract from the beauty of Thanksgiving decorations and memories of sun-golden days of autumn like the scene below.


In my last blog on gratitude, I explored the following idea by Eckhart Tolle. 
"Just be and enjoy being."

Perhaps, the act of just being is one I talk about but it is not always part of my actions. I think of myself as a work in progress, pausing, reflecting, and acting. I question the constant movement so now, I sit still in between tasks remembering the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything this is beautiful for beauty is God's handwriting." Even the rain tapping against my windows reminds me to look and find thanks for earth's gifts. For a few minutes, I enjoy the silence after the rain. Being in the moment is a sacred act of thanksgiving.  I thank my fellow SJT writers for their perspective on Fran Haley's reverent and inspirational prompt holy that you can access here. As I reread the words of my fellow SJT writers, I discovered a line or two from each of their blogs and created a poem.

Setting the Rhythm

Open the soul to seeing.
Holiness can be found in any place.
The soul should always stand ajar, 
Ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.
Beauty is God's handwriting.
Live your life in ways that help others and
At evening's end, feel the movement of the earth
Gracefully bowing down to heaven;
Utter a silent prayer of gratitude,
worship deep, and
Be thankful for the blessings bestowed.
©CV, 2022

Line 1  Fran Haley
Line 2 Bob Arjeha
Lines 3-4 Emily Dickinson
Line 6 Bob Arjeha
Lines 7-8 Carol Varsalona
Line 11 Carol Varsalona


Enjoy your pre-Thanksgiving preparations. This time of year is always filled with the spirit of family, beauty of the earth, and blessings from a bountiful harvest.

For now, I turn my thoughts to the fabulous kidlit author, poet, and nature photographer, Buffy Silverman as the host of this week's Poetry Friday. She is sharing a sneak peek of Laura Purdie Salas' upcoming book, Finding Family. It is sure to capture the heart of readers. Please click here to access Buffy's blog post filled with more poetic goodness from the Poetry Friday community of poets.

SJT Community, I extend my apologies for 
being a week later than our due date.


  1. So often we get bogged down in the expectation to be productive and active each day. I'm not often in the "just be" zone, but when I do take a minute or two to meditate and feel gratitude, I relish it as holy. No worries on being late. There is not really a deadline, you know.

  2. Carol, life has a way of rushing at us and making us move quickly so that we don't get run over. Those moments when we can just be are priceless. That time that we can reflect and meditate is truly holy. It is in those times that we can find peace.

  3. This resonated with me: "The soul should stand ajar"--love the idea of being open to what surrounds us. And yes to Abraham Joshua Heschel's words--

  4. I love this poem, Carol. What a great idea to gather lines. I hope you can find some quiet and holy moments in the busy days ahead. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  5. This is a lovely poem, Carol, and I can relate to the difficulties of slowing down and just being. I have challenged myself this month to do something each day to slow down, observe and be grateful (I'm calling it Slovember). Even with the daily prompt, pretty much every day I find myself forgetting and getting overwhelmed or stressed or upset about something (usually small in the scheme of things) but I find that I can keep going back to my prompt for the day, and recentre.

  6. Carol, this post was so worth waiting for! It's deeply reflective and honest...this line stood out to me: "It is difficult to just be when there is an ominous pressure surrounding me." I feel the weight of it. I know the weight of it. There are too many demands, personal and professional, and not enough time...a colleague and I discussed just yesterday that "we can't do all the things." Heschel's quote puts everything into perspective. The gift of life is holy. I love your line: "Being in the moment is a sacred act of thanksgiving." I am reminded of how often Scriptures mention meditating on God's word. The ending poem is like a meditation - how beautifully the work of our hands and hearts comes together! It is a collective offering and the title is perfect: Setting the Rhythm. I continue to seek and be mindful of the holy each day. Thank you for pressing on with the post - it is needed, and I am grateful for every uplifting line. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours - treasure the together-moments!

  7. Carol, I think you truly have a gift for centos. You create them beautifully and thoughtfully! And, yes, what we value and talk about is often what we AIM for but don't necessarily achieve. But we keep on trying!

  8. I've been incorporating more meditation time into my day. Stopping to attend to the breath is a kind of prayer. Your cento poem flows beautifully!

  9. Thanks for this Blessing filled post Carol, and yes to "Just to Be!" Lovely woven cento poem, I especially like your line, "At evening's end, feel the movement of the earth" beautiful!

  10. Carol, I've tried several times to leave a comment and this is the first time it's working. I love how you collected thoughts from our posts to create your poem, "Setting the Rhythm." Love this from your post, "Being in the moment is a sacred act of thanksgiving." And I like the steadfastness of your words, "As I grew, I remained in faith." I want to do that too. And now, I'm off to listen to Josh Groban. Happy Thanksgiving, Carol! Will you be at NCTE? I'm looking forward to reading posts from folks who are going.