Monday, August 7, 2017

This is What is Sacred

The human body – what a miracle. Despite all we do to it—abuse it, take it for granted, it still operates with amazing precision. Walt Whitman wrote, “If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred.” It is more than a work of art; it is the work of genius.

The mind – a complex computer with nearly unlimited capacities. Think of all we do without even thinking about it. Breathing, swallowing, sleeping, waking, walking, running. My typing, at this moment, without actually thinking about it, my fingers run across the keys effortlessly as though they somehow instinctively find the right letters on their own. It’s all the involuntary work of the mind. Creation gave us a brain but life gives us a mind. If we are aware, life will feed and nurture our mind. The ancients called the mind “a palace.” Such a gift.

Intimacy – touching, kissing, making love, holding one another; it’s all so vital to our humanity. We shrivel and withdraw, we isolate and grow remote when there is no real intimacy in our lives. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in one of his novels about a couple who “slipped into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” When it’s authentic, the influence of intimacy is lasting.

Laughter – this incredible human endowment, this brilliant capacity, takes us away from our worries and anxieties, our stoic indifference, on beyond the petty irritations of life, and all of our negative thoughts, and bathes us in something that feels like wonder, like fairy dust, like dizziness, like hugs and joy and merriment.

Children – we love them for their innocence, for their yet unscarred souls, for their ability to enjoy the smallest things, for their smiles and their need for us, for their trust and their delight. Dostoyevsky, the masterful Russian novelist, said the soul is healed by being with children.

Music – Shakespeare wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on / give me excess of it.” Music lifts us out of our doldrums, it carries us to memories of first loves, of broken heartedness, of unimaginable glee; it instructs us, encourages us, affirms our dreams, deepens our emotions, reminds us of all the things we want to do and be.

Books – could there be a more simple way to wisdom, to human understanding, to depths of inner exploration, to insights into the self, to the adventure of life, to risks we have feared but have always longed to take, to thoughts and beliefs finally confirmed, to grace and the covering of our shame, and to travel to places and with people we do not know but learn to love and find in the journey a better understanding of ourselves and a greater appreciation for our existence? George R.R. Martin, creator of Game of Thrones, has said, “The mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.” What an astonishing reward reading is.

Pets – the animal world invites us to drop our human pretenses and be open to the mystery of creatures, not below us but simply different from us. Dogs, cats, birds, squirrels, frogs, cows, horses, pigs, insects; they all invite us to enter their world and communicate with them. A.A. Milne, the creator of Winne the Pooh, once wrote, “Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.” Our pets, they have so much to teach us.

The list could go on and no doubt you have your own items you could include.

“There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred,” wrote the wise novelist and writer, Madeleine L’Engle. Actually, all it takes is awareness, heart, soul, curiosity, and a fierce sense of gratitude.

© 2017 Timothy Moody

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