The congregation with which I’m working this summer just finished a worship series on catching glimpses of God’s realm breaking into our world. For me, the best part of the series has been hearing members of the congregation share reflections about how and when they’ve caught glimpses of God.
Their reflections have been meaningful reminders of the opportunities we have to catch glimpses of God in the ordinary experiences of our lives. They’ve also renewed my sense that the line that’s often drawn between sacred and secular can block those glimpses.
As I’ve listened to clergy colleagues discuss when to return to in-person worship, I’ve sensed that sacred-secular line motivates some of them. One colleague even talks about the “sacred space” of the sanctuary as a rationale for returning to in-person worship sooner rather than later.
I don’t deny that sanctuaries can be sacred spaces, but I also believe that almost any space can be sacred. A home or an office? Yes. A forest or a field? Yes. A parking lot or a playground? Yes. A beach or a mountaintop? Yes. The six feet that helps keep us safe from COVID-19? Yes.
I was drawn to Benedictine spirituality long before the pandemic’s arrival. Now as I try to redefine my reality, that spirituality is more important than ever. In Benedictine spirituality there’s no line between sacred and secular. Instead, there’s a sense that we can experience God through worship, through nature, through relationships, and through all of the other ordinary events of our lives—as long as we pay attention.
In his wonderful volume Psalms for Zero Gravity, Edward Hays offers a prayer to which I find myself returning:
O Holy One who is everywhere,
make me a holy eraser
removing the old dividing lines
of sacred and secular.
For blessed are the eyes
that see all as good and holy
and fully saturated with you.
Daily empowered as your holy eraser,
may I boldly wipe out
all of religion’s confining graffiti,
those sharp sanctuary lines
that make the spiritual and practical
as different as earth is from sea.
During this period in which many of us are seeking to redefine our reality, I invite you to consider what it might mean to erase the things that separate secular and sacred, spiritual and practical. Perhaps it will help us catch new glimpses of God’s reign breaking into our world.
Associate Executive Minister