Sacred moments need not be in church
As humans, we have all experienced moments of deep pleasure or profound emotion: the beauty of a rainbow or a sunset, the joy of an unexpected expression of unconditional love, the thrill of being surprised by a simple act of kindness, the warm feeling that follows an exceptionally good time with friends.
I think all of these moments could be considered as sacred encounters. In fact, it's probably time to change the perspective that has so arbitrarily divided the world between the secular and the sacred.
Our places of worship shouldn't be the only places where we experience the presence of God or that which is holy. The experience of Moses with the burning bush that wasn't being consumed and the expression of worship that provides personal inspiration can be easily accepted as sacred moments. Therefore, something is sacred when there is a connection with God or the holy.
It's probably time to change the perspective that has so arbitrarily divided the world between the secular and the sacred.
I believe this spiritual connection is possible within every human encounter -- with another person, with the natural environment and even within a secular event. The sacred happens whenever we bring a spiritual presence to a moment of our life.
Whether an experience is sacred is really a matter of personal choice. We can each freely choose to live in a world that is sacred or a world that is secular. Most people probably move between both worlds. This is quite understandable.
The history of religions can easily document this division between the sacred and the secular. In fact, our theologians and religious leaders have been the primary architects of these distinctions.
What I'm suggesting is a changed perspective on life that brings a spiritual presence into all aspects of our living. Imagine the possibilities of every human encounter and every personal decision being an expression of compassion, kindness, justice and peace.
While a secular humanist can certainly live according to these virtues, the expression couldn't be considered sacred unless there is also a spiritual connection.
There are unlimited opportunities but here's a start:
» Volunteering at a homeless shelter.
» Saying a kind word to a tired salesclerk.
» Offering a prayer for peace.
» Helping someone across a busy street.
» Lobbying for affordable housing.
» Calming an angry person.
» Donating to a food pantry.
» Picking up trash at a beach.
» Inviting someone to attend worship with you.
» Taking your family out to dinner.
» Forgiving someone who has hurt you.
» Planting a tree.
» Starting a community garden.
» Deciding to vote.
» Visiting someone who is ill.
» Having a conversation about life's purpose.
People plan vacations around visits to holy places when all we need for a sacred moment is to put our faith into practice.
The Rev. John Heidel is a minister of the United Church of Christ, a member of Christ Church Uniting Disciples and Presbyterians in Kailua and president of the Interfaith Alliance Hawaii.