I began this post as a part of the Museum of Sacred Space post last fall. Portions of it have been sitting in draft form since then for fear of sharing these thoughts.
It is said that there is a darkened room in the recesses of every person that we dare not let anyone else near for fear of exposing our true self.
There is something about “feel”, sacred space, mysticism and spirituality that is lacking in the version of Christianity to which I am accustomed. Entrenched squarely in the Enlightenment, what matters most in my tradition is what one knows and believes. It is a cerebral, internal, intellectual and thoughtful thing. Knowing and believing are wonderful and necessary but I think they are not entirely what it means to be in relationship with the divine or sacred.
I attended a “green” business summit last week that focused on sustainability. Some of the most fascinating seminar speakers talked about how the science of sustainability is going to nature to determine better ways to do things. It is a concept called “biomimicry”. It is all the rage. It is also nothing new.
We once thought that we could tame the world to do our bidding….bigger, better, faster, higher returns with smaller inputs, more, more, more. We thought that we could know everything there is to know about the world. However, we are slowly learning that we are but one component of a very complex system. We are learning that the natural way is cyclical not exponential, that our choices fueled by our knowledge have consequences that we can not always foresee or know.
Somewhere along the way our knowledge outstripped our ability to observe anything further in some matters (eg. string theory) and we lost touch with the natural rhythm and harmony of life. Michael Polanyi speaks well of this when he writes about transcendence in this essay. Within a framework of hierarchies and boundaries, the higher one gets in hierarchical levels, the more meaningful but intangible the levels become.
I think that is where the divine intersects our existence, something that we can encounter but can’t explain, something that we can know but not tell, something that, in its comprehensive form, is incomprehensible, something that is deeply meaningful but intangible, something ever-present but undetectable.
The more I think about this the more I understand that the encounter of the sacred in our lives is as individually resonant as just about anything else in life. While the St. Patrick’s Cathedral was beautiful and grand, it did not stir in me a sense of the sacred like beautiful art or a sunset or some music or a cool rock does. Aunt B “sits out“, Malia has her Wednesdays, and I have my music and art.
In all of these, we open that darkened room within ourselves and encounter what lives there. These are the encounters which ground us, which shape who we are as people, which define our true selves. It is here that we find our sacred space.