Tag Archives: Moments

That’s Qadosh

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Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.
Psalm 99:9 (NIV)

While being in quarantine has frustrated my extroverted need for interpersonal interaction over the past ten days, I have also been mindful each day to appreciate the opportunity it has afforded Wendy and me to spend lots of time with our grandson, Milo, who normally resides across the pond in Scotland. Yesterday, my exercise monitor informed me that I’d set a new personal record for exercise in one day. If you’re having a hard time getting into that New Year’s workout routine, I suggest finding someone to loan you their three-year-old for a few days.

One of the more endearing developments during our extended time together has been Milo’s desire to go to sleep at night in Papa and Yaya’s bed. Last night, Wendy and I climbed onto the bed with Milo between us. We read three books together, then turned out the light. We sang softly in the darkness. Wendy reached over Milo and held my hand as we lay and sang with Milo nestled between us. Even with my hearing impairment, I could hear Milo’s deep breaths as he drifted to sleep. We then whispered a prayer over him before slipping out of the room.

That, my friend, was a special moment. I wanted to just stay in that moment forever. If only I could bottle it up and hold onto it. I immediately knew that it was a memory I will remember and cherish always.

Today’s chapter, Psalm 99, continues in this section of ancient Hebrew praise songs. They were likely used for liturgical purposes to call the Hebrews to worship in the temple. The lyricist of Psalm 99 layered this call to praise with metaphorical meaning that casual readers in English would never pick up.

Remember in yesterday’s post/podcast I shared that “everything is connected?” The Hebrews found spiritual connections with numbers. Each number had meaning. Seven was a number that meant “completeness.” Three was a number spiritually connected to the divine. There are three stanzas, each with four verses (4+3=7). Seven times the songwriter uses the Hebrew name of God, Yahweh. Seven times he uses Hebrew independent personal pronouns. Three times he refers to God as “holy” (Hebrew: qadosh).

I confess that “holy” is a word, and a spiritual concept, that I failed to fully understand, or flat out got wrong, for most of my journey. The concept of holiness as communicated by the institutional churches I’ve been involved in my whole life made holiness out to be simple moral purity in the utmost sense. The equation was “no sin” plus “going to church” equaled “holiness” (x + y = z). Which meant that holiness, unless you were Mother Theresa, was pretty much unattainable.

I have come to understand, however, that qadosh has a much larger meaning. There are moments in life in which everyone in the room knows there is something meaningful, something special, something larger that is happening in the moment.

Our daughter, Taylor, has an audiotape of the moment she entered the world in the delivery room. You hear her squeaky cries. You hear Dr. Shaw announce it‘s a girl. You hear me talking to her on the warming table. That moment is qadosh.

Last October I stood with our daughter, Madison, in a courtyard. We watched the congregation stand and turn toward us. The beautiful bride, whom I taught to walk, I now walked down the aisle to “give her away” to the man she loves. People smiled and wept. That moment was qadosh.

I sat in the dark room of the nursing home as my grandmother’s life ebbed away with each strained breath. Through the wee hours I kept watch over her. I held her hand. I sang her favorite hymn. I read the final chapter of the Great Story to her and I realized in the moment that it was like reading a travel brochure for the trip she was about to take. That moment was qadosh.

Last night as Wendy and I held hands and hovered over our peaceful, sleeping grandson lying in our bed. We sang. We prayed blessings over him. It was a holy moment. That’s qadosh.

Throughout the Great Story, when God made a special appearance (theologians call that a theophany) the person to whom God appears is mesmerized, speechless, dumbfounded, or overwhelmed. To be in the presence of God, described by lyricist of Psalm 99 as the royal King of Kings. That moment is qadosh.

When the psalmist calls me to worship, he’s not religiously demanding that I dutifully “go to church” in an effort to attain some pinnacle of moral purity. In fact, when I meditate on the fullness of all the qadosh moments I’ve recalled, then all my old notions of what it means to be “holy” are silly in their triteness. The psalmist is calling me into the mysterious, beautiful, meaningful moment of qadosh.

Want to Read More?

Click on the image, or click here, to be taken to a simple, visual index of all the posts in this series from the book of Psalms.

There is also a list of recent chapter-a-day series indexed by book.

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

Top Five Moments in My Day

cwg coffee cup lr“Tom, you are man of routines,” my friend Sam once said to me. I guess he’s right, but I think we all have routines. There are little moments in life that we experience everyday, or almost every day, without giving them much thought. Here are my top five routine daily moments:

5. The quiet time. Most days I am up before anyone else in the house. I like the quiet to read, think, pray, ponder, get things done undisturbed.

4. The first sip of coffee. Ahhhhh.

3. The breakfast with my baby. After the quiet time, most days at home begin with Wendy and me sitting down with the Wall Street Journal to eat breakfast and read about what’s going on in the world. This usually leads to good and enjoyable conversation. I grieve that future generations will never experience the simple joy of reading the morning newspaper over breakfast. Technology is killing some really good things.

2. The hugs. I am an affectionate person. My home is an affectionate place. Hugs are physical, spiritual, emotional, relational and spiritual fuel for my day. I can’t count the number of hugs Wendy and I share each day. Some would find it ridiculous. Having Suzanna living with us this year and the subsequent increase in my daily hug quotient has made me realize just how much I’ve missed the days when Taylor and Madison lived at home and I experienced their hugs regularly.

1. The slide into bed. I love that first moment each night when I slide under the sheet next to Wendy. It is a subtle and peaceful moment. The day is done. Rest is imminent. I’m laying next to the one I love. Mm.

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Preparing for a Role: Bits & Moments in the Grind

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It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted about my preparations for a role in the Central College Theatre Department’s production of Ah, Wilderness!. The last time I posted we had the show blocked and had begun the process of really digging into our characters and working the scenes in rehearsal.

One of the things that you learn in the rehearsal process is that, in most productions, there is a natural flow to it. The initial excitement and fun of launching into the work together eventually gives way to a rehearsal grind. You work the same scenes over and over and over again. You get tired of being there. You stop looking forward to rehearsal and feel a sort of “here we go again” groan as you head to the theatre. It’s natural. It will eventually lead to a second wind of excitement and adrenaline before performance. The rehearsal grind is necessary and profitable for finding deeper layers of understanding, relationship and authentic moments on stage.

“Bits” and “Moments”

It’s in the grind of working scenes over and over again that you begin to find “bits.” “Bits” are small actions on stage, typically physical in nature, that generally provide a little humor. For example, in one scene my character is coming home just in time for family dinner after having gotten a little tipsy at a Fourth of July picnic. The script calls for me to greet our housemaid, Nora, with a simple “Hello, Nora” while giving her a courtly bow. As we worked the scene I realized that I’m greeting Norah just as she’s coming out of the swinging kitchen door with a serving bowl full of hot soup. I suddenly thought it would be a funny to hide behind the door so she doesn’t see me as it swings open, then jump out from behind and scare the daylights out of her. The first time I did it I think I actually did give actor Abbi Hartman, who plays Nora, a small heart attack (sorry, Abbi!).  The bit got a good laugh, however, and Director Ann Wilkinson let me keep it in the show.

Compared to a physical bit, a “moment” is more of a relational connection that is made between two characters. It might not be verbal or physical. A moment could be a look or a silent connection. These moments begin to emerge only as you grind out the scene over and over again and delve deeper into the character and the circumstances that are happening within the scene. For an actor, there can be a feeling of magic when moments happen. In that moment the lines, blocking, and character work all combine to create a very real, very emotional moment between you and a fellow actor within the scene. This is when you know you’ve begun to press beyond just “going through the motions” and are creating a reality on stage which will cause audiences to suspend their disbelief and get lost in the world of the play.

For example, there is a subtle “moment” that happens when my character confronts his young son, capably played by Jacob Anderson, about whether he’s been trying to take advantage of his girlfriend. In his defense the 16 year-old son spills that he and the neighbor girl are engaged. As we worked the lines in the scene the reality of the moment sunk in that my 16 year-old son is surprising me with news that he’s engaged. That reality caused me to reel back with a look of paternal astonishment. That look, in turn, caused Jacob to respond with a defensive pull back and the way he played his next line changed. It’s a small moment, but it allowed me to feel that this is a very real moment between father and son.

Some of my other favorite moments happen in the final scene of the play in which my character and his wife, Essie, are sitting together in the quiet of a summer evening having a marital conversation about their children, the days events, and engaging in that subtle non-verbal dance of flirtation between husband and wife that eventually leads to bed (don’t worry – only the flirtatious non-verbal part is in the script). First of all, I have to compliment my fellow actor Tiki Steen who has had to face the challenging task of being a young female college student thrown into an on-stage marriage with a strange man old enough to be her father. Acting can put you in weird situations and Tiki has handled it with cheerful humor and a generous amount of maturity for an actor her age. I bring years of marital experience to the scene which helps tremendously. I can totally relate to late evening conversations about children and worries and subtextual flirtations that happen between husband and wife. Tiki has had to do the yeoman’s work of learning, exploring and discovering. The reward for both actor and audience is some very genuine moments that happen in the scene.

As I rolled out of bed this morning about 2 hours later than normal, Wendy commented on how much of a toll “the grind” of rehearsal has taken on me. When you work a part hard and rehearse well, it can tax you physically and mentally. I tend to come home from rehearsal tired, but buzzing from the experience. I have to take some time to wind down, debrief with Wendy about the rehearsal, have a small bite of something and a nightcap, and let my brain and body relax. That usually means getting to bed a little later than normal and being a little more worn out than usual.

The grind is over. Tomorrow is a long technical cue-to-cue rehearsal. Then it’s three dress rehearsals before opening night.

Ticket and Production Information for Ah, Wilderness!