Of the many things I enjoy about my new urban environment is the idea that I can walk to places I want to go to. Like tonight, a solitary Friday night when I’m tired and tempted to just vegetate in front of one of many different electronic display screens: somehow I managed the will to walk two blocks to a marvelous sidewalk café that serves a flight of three great wines for $15 not to mention a great salad and mini pizza that is, as the cliché goes, to die for. I’m glad that I don’t have to make a living from my writing because a sentence like that can earn you a smack in the chops from any sane editor in the world.
I also love the idea that I can blend into the environment, become a fly on the wall (or the next table) and listen to the fascinating yet mundane conversation of the large extended family that was musing about new babies and imminent babies and babies that have grown up to be drunken stockbrokers or lawyers or some damn thing. I love that a drunk or high or senile beggar woman has the nerve to lean over the fancy planter and ask for spare change and I love that God has provided me with both the resources and heart to give her that and a little more, even though I’m sure that she’ll probably just use it to dull whatever pain she has. If I can give a little comfort in the form of a dollar then let me do so.
And I also love the idea that I can sit by myself in a sidewalk café and drink a glass or three of wine and read a book about spirituality and relationality and not be thought of as weird. Or at least not be identified as such by anyone out loud.
But said book got me to thinking deep thoughts, a dangerous thing for me, though it seems to happen far too seldom these days. I am wondering about what the word sacred means. The authors of the book identify it as the object of spirituality from the human perspective. They are Christian in their worldview but take some pains to make their musings and analysis encompass larger thoughts so it should not surprise anyone when they define the word sacred as something or someone transcendent or holy or extraordinary (all words that demand their own musings and definitions) but, perhaps most important, that which we cannot abide to have desecrated.
So this got me to thinking about what I hold to be sacred. Not to be all postmodern and relative but it seems to me that that which one holds sacred is a very personal and individual thing. Sure, in a community we can agree on sacred things in common but we have to acquiesce to those agreements as individuals or they have no power for us.
And, I’m sure, that there are varying degrees of sacred or perhaps varying types. I know that there are objects, physical objects, that I hold sacred but I would not give my life to prevent their desecration. At the other end of the spectrum, there are ideals that I hold sacred for which I would give my life (thankfully that has never been tested). It just seems to me worth considering in this post what some of those sacred thing might be:
Of course there is the Trinitarian God. I acknowledge my Creator, my Sustainer and my Savior as holy and transcendent and certainly extraordinary.
I hold the practice of the Eucharist sacred. It never fails to touch me as an experience with infinitely more meaning than the apparent.
But there are more earthly things that I hold sacred as well. I hold my country’s ideals as sacred: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” and “We the people…” and “I have a dream…” and “Ask not what your country can do for you…” I believe these things and they hold a place of special, extraordinary honor in my heart.
And there are physical things that I hold sacred too. If there was a fire in my home and all living things were safe and I could grab only one possession it would be the glass jar in which I keep a few special treasures: a lock of Pam’s hair, a dried rose from my mother’s funeral, the rock I picked up off the peak of Holy Cross mountain in Colorado and the silver dollar my parents gave each of us when they finally paid off their mortgage.
What occurs to me is that each of these things, these objects of sacredness, is some part of what defines me. Apart from these objects of sacredness I am something less if I am anything at all. Anyway, those are the thoughts of an amateur philosopher on a cool summer night in the city. May you be touched by someone or something you hold sacred this night as well.