If you’re like me, the holiest moments of your life don’t necessarily occur in church. Those moments when we are blissfully aware of the sacred, when the Holy One feels near and present and completely personal, are events we can’t plan or schedule for 10:00 a.m. on Sunday. Instead, God meets us in our experiences.

I have found the presence of God most profound at the births of our children, in their first grimaces, squeaks, and cries when they greeted us, the daylight, and the wider world. They cried, and we cried with them. At those times it was impossible to contain our joy in God’s kindness. This awareness of the holy continues now as we greet new grandchildren.

The goodness of God overwhelms me when I hear the voices of our family raised in song at a candlelit Christmas Eve service, all of us united in our praise, or when I hear the ring of their laughter as we run outside to witness a pile of cumulus clouds stacking high into the heavens, creating a summer thunderstorm and maybe a rainbow. These moments are holy when we stand amazed by God’s beauty and artistry.

As I gaze into the eyes of my husband of nearly forty years and still see the young man I fell in love with decades ago, I sense the holy. To me, he is unchanged, and our intimacy still awakens a wonder of God’s nearness and passion for us that outstrips our humanity.

Within God’s creation, He is present. As I toured Muir Woods with my little sister, we stood beneath towering redwoods, inhaling the fragrance of a primeval forest. As we waded into the Pacific Ocean, the waters lapped over our feet, ebbing and flowing. On top of a mountain as the distant roar and thrashing of the wind is heard, felt, and witnessed raging through the trees, God is palpably near. All of this is sacred, testifying to God’s creative hand.

When our twenty-something daughter spied Niagara Falls for the first time, she broke away, racing toward the overlook railing. Exclaiming her amazement, the joy in what the Holy One had made spilled over into laughter, as if God laughed with her. When we later stepped through a dark, wet tunnel behind the falls to stand in the spray of water pounding onto the rocks, the reverberation so loud we had to shout into one another’s ears to be heard, it was holy, for God was there.

During every episode of This is Us, that special moment of grace demonstrated by one character to another overwhelms me. Grace, even when it’s shown on television, is exceptional and holy, for it is of God. When we exhibit grace, we reveal the image of God in us.

When we see the relentless signs of aging in our bodies, we are aware of the holy in God’s timetable for our lives and for His world. All around us spring erupts from brown earth, showing life from what seemed dead. Thus time flies, and in this God is intimate and close.

On this day, I still have two living parents, a precious gift that death will one day strip from my grasp. I was mindful of this on my father’s recent eighty-second birthday. And, even in this awareness, God’s love, compassion, and holiness wash over me, the certainty comforting me, for He came to defeat death.

Of course, there are also the holy moments when God is nudging and we’re not yet sure what important truth He’s drawing to our attention, and then the epiphany occurs, and He overwhelms us with His presence. And we are cherished, aware, convicted, and disarmed. This happens as we hover over His Word, reflect on His mercy and kindness throughout our lives, or sit contemplating under a tree.

All of these are bestowed by God, given to allow us to see Him, to make us aware of His gifts of beauty and meaning and purpose, and to inform us that He created these specifically for us, simply so we would know He loves us.

When are you most aware of the holy?