The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. –Albert Einstein
What is it about the human being that leads him/her to the Sacred? Science now assures us that memory resides in our body and brain cells, carried on the river of our DNA. Early cave drawings show that humans looked for the meaning in life. Writing gives us a clearer picture of how much we cared that there be meaning in our living. Early writing reveals a feminine grounding in the holy life, seen as necessary to the fertility of the land and those occupying it. God was Goddess, and as early as 2300 BCE we were thriving within the time of the Sacred Feminine. Her generosity was what made the grain flourish, babies thrive and the waters come. She was always above and within us, protecting us as we protected her.
It’s clear that we are a people descended from those who saw the holy in the everyday. Our first words in the human language were an attempt to understand our relationship to the heavens and the Earth. Why and when we began to separate sacred energy into “Sunday” and “The rest of the week” is a longer story. The fact is, we are born to know the energy of the sacred within our lives, and separating it into its own little box, where we go on a specific day of the week, has led to our dissatisfaction and feelings of loss as a society. We have also separated into “Us” and “Them”—something our ancestors would have found foolish and incomprehensible. To them, the universe consisted only of “Us,” including how they saw God.
One thing that has landed us in this divided place is our loss of quiet, or silence. In the book Quiet, author Susan Cain reveals the history of our society that began to systematically shun the more introverted of our species, preferring the ego-driven world of the loud. She describes the school-system in the 1950s where teachers warned parents that “Johnny may make good grades, but he doesn’t make friends easily. He needs to learn to be more social.” Thank God Edison and Einstein came earlier than the “Cult of Personality” pushed by parents, schools and, soon, universities. Cain describes Harvard Business School as the “Spiritual Capital of Extroversion.” While researching her book there, her contacts said she would be lucky to find one introvert on that campus. The main-stream business world discourages such people. Yet without quiet time, silence, contemplation—whatever you choose to call it—the mystery of our spiritual and creative lives cannot flourish. Prayer and meditations need a contemplative heart and mind in a place that encourages such a thing. An hour in Church, Mosque or Temple will not suffice.
The wonderful Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver wrote of this in her poem “The Summer Day” found in “New and Selected Poems” 1992:
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed…
A whole new approach to how we see our fellow humans, animals, beliefs and ways of life is necessary to return us to the heart of the Sacred. It will take deep examination of how we live and who we are in this society—deep and honest evaluation. (Do we judge others based on how they differ from us? Do we ignore the tenants of our religions by judging others as “lesser” or “inferior” or simply “wrong?” Do we fill up our space with noise and negative speech and emotion regardless of who is around us? Do we listen with attention of the heart when someone speaks to us, rather than planning our reply in our head?” Do we open ourselves to the possibility of compromise when hearing the opinion of others who don’t necessarily agree with us?)
If we don’t do these things, we are not on the path of the Sacred but the path of division—the Sacred is always about the “whole” and inclusion. As I write this on a Sunday in November, the political machines are at full throttle. The cries of outrage over candidates who are not in our party, our minority group or our liberal/conservative viewpoint have become loud, nasty and divisive. If we are ever to create a return to civility or care for the common good—another facet of the Sacred—we have to change. There is no alternative. We have painted lines on maps to separate ourselves, lines on political maps to gain advantage, and fences around our compounds to protect our way of life. All of these divisions are harmful and creating a society so fragmented it barely operates. May we choose, on this day and every day, to be the change we long to see. To finish the poem of Mary Oliver:
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
By Author Therèse Tappouni
Facebook Pages: Therese Tappouni and The Gifts of Grief