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Everyday Holiness

Here's a gut punch about everyday holiness from Karen Stiller. Wow ...


Everyday Holiness

By Karen Stiller


Our house is an old semi-detached lady with good bones but sagging skin. Her walls are thin. On a recent Friday night, I went to bed early. Our neighbors stayed up late.


Just on the other side of our bedroom wall, these lovely people listened to music and walked an elephant around until well past four in the morning.


I had planned an idyllic Saturday of writing, so for most of the night, I lay in bed awake with the knowledge that the entire universe had organized itself against me. I finally hauled myself up at eight to gulp down an Americano and try anyway. But first I stood as close to our shared wall as possible and jumped up and down three times on our creaky hardwood floor, as high and hard as in fourth-grade gym class. Then I slammed the bathroom door like a teenager, in case the jumping hadn’t worked.


I’m a big baby.


I did write a few paragraphs, but then surrendered to my fatigue and closed my laptop. Later that day, I called my oldest friend so we could catch up on our news. By then I had started to feel guilty about the jumping. I told her about it.


“So now I’m going to bake them cookies,” I explained.


“You tried to wake them, and now you’re going to bake them cookies? That is very passive-aggressive of you,” she said, like an old friend does.


I thought about it later, as the butter softened on the counter. A soul sensitive to all it’s doing wrong is probably a soul doing something right, I told myself. An awareness of our shortcomings can actually help us grow instead of becoming used to reassuring ourselves we are fine just as we are, so very messy.


The ginger crinkles were the repentance for the jumping that had been my revenge. The cookies were a way for me to remind myself that I am to try to love at all times, even when I don’t get a good night’s sleep. I don’t want to be a grouchy neighbor, the mean lady who lives next door and trots off to church on Sunday.


I want to be a baker and a maker and a giver.


I sifted and stirred my way through it and talked to my husband. “Do you think this is passive-

aggressive?” I asked Brent, while eating spoonfuls of raw dough.


We concluded that if I had baked and delivered the cookies first and then come home to jump up and down and make noise while hurting my feet, that would be passive-aggressive—also weird and

not at all holy. Here, the order mattered. Jumping first, followed eventually by shame and regret, then baking. That’s holy-ish.


This sounds so silly and small, but this is what our days are made of most of the time. The small, the silly, and the splendid. We have all these little opportunities to do something holy and all those big opportunities to do nothing at all. I said sorry, via ginger crinkles left outside their door, for something they didn’t even know I had done—as weary as they must have been from staying up all night looking after their house elephant.


Taken from Holiness Here: Searching for God in the Ordinary Events of Everyday Life by Karen Stiller © 2024. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 

Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today magazine and writes frequently for magazines like Reader's Digest, Ekstasis, In Trust, and other publications across North America. Her most recent book is Holiness Here: Searching for God in the Ordinary Events of Everyday Life. Stiller is a three-time winner of the prestigious A.C. Forrest Memorial Award from the Canadian Church Press for excellence in socially conscious religious journalism. She is author of The Minister's Wife, and co-author of Craft, Cost & Call. She lives in Ottawa and has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Non-Fiction from University of King's College, Dalhousie.


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