On a recent trip to Quebec City my wife and I took a day to visit the historic cathedral. Seated inside such structures, I understand how cavernous architecture, illuminated stained glass and dreamlike stone imagery can transmit a state of the sacred.
Just by sitting there.
Off to the side I noticed a volunteer, a man in his early 40’s welcoming and assisting visitors. He was so excited he could barely stand still. One moment his friendly arm wrapped around the shoulder of a smiling man, next, an extended hand to a stooped elderly woman, then a whispered intimate conversation with a teen.
Watching him was more effective to my heart then listening to the service! In the midst of mere stone and statue he had stumbled onto the sacred within himself and was spreading it around. It made me reflect…
Here is what happens when I take life too seriously:
- My breathing is shallow
- My body is less mobile – I feel tight, fearful and constricted
- My thinking is narrowly focused on right and wrong
- I believe my thinking and will try to defend it
- I feel very responsible for how I show up
- I cannot break an authentic smile for me or you
And aren’t we supposed to take things seriously? Isn’t the opposite just being uncaring, dismissive and halfhearted? And we already have enough of that to go around.
And surely spiritual practices are supposed to help us care, tenderize the heart and so need to be held seriously, right? Hmmm.
Serious quickly gets hijacked by guilt, pressure and comparison to become a slow burning recipe for resentment.
When we slow down, spirit enters.
When we slowwww down, spirit enters.
Architects of spacious, beautiful cathedrals understood this.
This is how sacred enters the scene.
Here is what happens when life becomes sacred:
- I take deeper breaths
- My body unhinges
- My feelings become a current of sensation, a river of intimate discourse
- Thoughts are more permeable, spacious, multi-layered and kind
- I feel held and amazingly patient and accessible for others
- I can smile with you and not know why
Here is a poem that was written to invite this state of the sacred, this remembering who we are when we slow down.
It is at the core of the work I do one on one with others.
it is time, my friend-
Place the ten juggling balls
onto the floor
hang the drum on its peg
make two fists tight
into the ten directions.
Stop answering what life asks from you.
Inhabit the irresistible.
stop the fanfare.
you are working towards
all your plans and
yes, even your fragile dreams
The sun sings our planets’ spin
and you and all your relatives
are aging on this twirling earth.
Just when you think
how bored you are
All miracles begin in the dark…
You are the sacred blood
inside the sacred heartbeat
of a sacred universe.