I shared this image on Instagram a few days ago.  This is what Sedona felt like – the sacred was all around us, and I couldn’t stop noticing it.  One day we went for the short hike up to the vortex on the property of our hotel.  We sat up there for a bit, talking to another guest, and Grace and Whit had lots of questions.  She was very nice, and told us all about the energy of the place.  I could tell that certain members of my family weren’t buying it.

As we walked down, though, Whit trailed behind with me.  He stopped briefly to examine the cairn he’d built on the way up, and I paused with him.  As he stood up he looked at me.  “I think I felt something,” he said quickly.

“Me too, Whit.”  I smiled, rubbed his shoulders, and we kept walking.

All week I felt the holiness in the air.  Maybe because I’d heard so much about it, who knows.  But whatever the reason, the very atmosphere in Sedona was charged with something both humming with vitality and deeply peaceful.  I thought about it a lot.  Annie Dillard rang in my head, alongside Barbara Brown Taylor (above, and the passage about altars I quoted on Monday): “What a hideout: Holiness lies spread and borne over the surface of time and stuff like color.”

And since coming home I’ve been thinking about choosing.  Do I choose to see the divinity all around me? It doesn’t feel like a choice, I can tell you that. We can remain open to the sacred that exists in our ordinary lives, of that much I’m sure.  But do we opt to see it, or does it just appear to some people?

Maybe this ambivalence about choosing what we see is connected to how I’ve always felt a little reservation about the notion that we choose happiness.  Do we choose joy?  I’m honestly not sure.  I don’t know that I choose how I am in the world – I’ve been porous since day one, and as I get older I’m getting more that way.  But is this something I choose?  I don’t think so.  It feels more like how I exist in the world, the way I’m wired, some kind of deep-seated default orientation. Not saying I wouldn’t choose it, but I’m not sure that I do.

How do you feel about the notion of choosing joy, or choosing receptivity to life’s holiness? 

13 thoughts on “Choosing”

  1. I’m as ambivalent about this as you are. I agree that we can choose to remain open to see the wonder around us. But does that mean that we necessarily do so, or at least constantly do so? I also feel that it’s somehow too easy, to claim that all we need to do is choose – joy, happiness, wonder. As if we’re at fault when we don’t experience them. But, choice, in the sense of general attitude, is a powerful thing.
    I like how you phrased it, as a way of being in the world. And sometimes I wish I was more sensitive and in tune to the energy around me!

  2. You must have read “Big Magic”, right? You strike me as such an artist… and writers ARE artists. In that way, I feel that the openness, the possibility – no – opportunity – to be MOVED is not really my choice.. something that just happens through me. LOVELY to read your posts, as always.

  3. I have and I really liked it. You’re so kind about saying that – I admit I don’t feel like much of an artist, so it’s very nice to hear!!

  4. I agree with you about how it put the fault on us if we DON’T feel happy – maybe part of that is merited, maybe it’s not. I’m not sure. xox

  5. I guess I would cast it in a different, just as wondrous light: if we are open to being chosen, then our eyes are opened.

    Very little of it has to do with us and what we do or don’t do, but as we are reminded so poignantly this week of the year, it is what He has done for us by choosing to rescue us. We simply accept that gift of grace.

    Holy Week blessings, Lindsey!

  6. I think we can choose to be open to holiness/joy/divinity – but I also think some of us are more prone to that choice than others (or life makes us that way). Maybe it’s partly both. I love Barbara Brown Taylor and I have also been in places where I felt that holiness. I like the idea of “thin places” where heaven and earth meet.

  7. I read this earlier today and I’ve been thinking about it since. And, perhaps not surprisingly, it feels like I have a long, complicated answer to these questions about choosing (which I will spare you from). But I will say this: I have to make a conscious effort to choose joy/happiness; I think it comes from a deeper understanding of all the sorrow and transience that also exists in life. But it is not the same for finding sacred/miraculous in the physical world where it stuns me regularly, often, and completely effortlessly. It feels like that exists on a different wavelength or something for me, which is strange because those very same “whoa” moments bring me joy too. I am probably making zero sense (and it’s not by choice). 😉

  8. Maybe that’s why I feel so unsure about this question – it’s both. Love the “thin places” image – also have always loved the word “liminal” because if speaks to me of similar borders.

  9. I wanted to comment on the idea that some places are holy. I’ve never been to Sedona, but that’s the feeling I got in Hawaii, especially Maui. The air, the earth, ocean, the rainbows, the people, even the vowel-laden language. Beauty and presence.

  10. I believe wholeheartedly in choosing joy! I’m read a great book right now, The Gratitude Diaries, and she writes about this a lot. There was a quote ( and I’m paraphrasing) The choosing to be joyful is the closest you can come to perfection.

  11. This gives me a lot to think about. I tend to think that yes, we choose not how we react, per se, but we choose to continue to react.

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