There’s long been a distinction in Judaism between “Kodesh” (“Holy”) and “Chol” (“Profane/Mundane”). In fact, the Havdalah Service at the end of Shabbat includes a blessing that thanks God for distinguishing between these two different states- Kodesh and Chol. The distinction comes from the fact that the rabbis of ancient times thought that part of the Holiness of the Divine Being was the separateness of that Being from all other beings. Holy meant, unique, perfect, uncorrupted, and by extension– separate. “Chol” (profane/mundane) wasn’t a bad thing– it just meant un-Divine. Things that are made of blood and guts, like people, are basically “chol” except for that part of us that is a reflection of the Divine Being. In this distinction there could be some aspects of “Kodesh” in the “Chol”– some holiness in the mundane or profane, but the opposite couldn’t be true. There’s no “Chol” in “Kodesh”– nothing profane about God.

While God is a fascinating topic, worthy of lots of thought, reflection, and meditation, so too is “Chol”– the mundane and profane aspects of creation and of life. After all, we spend a lot of time dwelling in the “Chol” (interestingly, Chol also means “sand”). The “Chol” is interesting because of the complexity, because of the messiness, because of the many different ways that “Chol” appear in the world. “Chol” is also fascinating because of the way that “Kodesh” ends up appearing amidst the “Chol.”

How does the Divine Spark manifest in your being? In your life? In the decisions you make? In the capacities that you have? In the world around you? What do you make of the beauty in the profane and mundane that is all around?

There’s a part of me that wants to give up the “Kodesh/Chol” distinction. That part of me is pretty insistent that, “it’s all holy.” And while I acquiesce to that voice often, there’s part of me that continues to love the messy combination of Kodesh and Chol that characterizes so much of my own life experience and informs the way that I make sense of the world around me.

The Creek at Hardtimes Trail, NC
Everyday holiness

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