Holy Envy: A reflection on my recent trip to Colorado


Back in March of this year, Barbara Brown Taylor released a book called Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others. I haven’t had a chance to read it just yet, but as I spent last week with students from the South Loop Campus Ministry, traveling through Colorado, I experienced my own case of holy envy. It happened to me at the Shambhala Mountain Center (SMC), a Buddhist retreat center, where the students and I spent two days immersed in nature, meditation, mindfulness, and yoga


The Tibetan form of Buddhism that we were being taught at the SMC so wholeheartedly embraced color and art, silence and ritual, and goodness and being in such a profound way, that I was struck with holy envy.  I was encountering God and goodness within myself and the world around me in ways I never have before.

Being in the midst of the Rocky Mountains also gave me a sense of geographic envy.  I’m a Midwesterner to the core, and everytime I caught a glimpse of the mountains, it took my breath away. I found myself longing for even a hint of elevation back home in Illinois.

Despite my holy and geographic envy, I did not return from Colorado a Buddhist convert or a mountain man. I am still secure in my Christian faith and at home closer to sea level in the Midwest, but I will testify that my experience traveling to a different place and familiarizing myself with the faith practices of others can and did invite me to find God anew.

Hopefully soon the hold I placed on Barbara Brown Taylor’s Holy Envy will be ready for pickup from the Harold Washington Branch of the Chicago Public Library right by HTLoop, but until then, I took a peek at the online preview of the book, and I found this quote which that captures the impact of my trip to Colorado:

“The God of your understanding is just that: the God of your understanding. What you need is the God just beyond your understanding.” -Rabbi Rami Shapiro

This was my experience in Colorado, and I hope it was for the students as well, but I wonder where you might also be being called to go outside of your traditional understanding of God, experience holy envy, and discover the God just beyond your understanding?


Pr. Ben (click my name to send me a message)