What Has Happened to the Sacredness of Life?
by Mark Votava
In the midst of knowing a few people who have died recently, gotten sick with cancer, have had surgeries or have struggled with health due to aging; I find myself pondering life differently. In the middle age of my life I am coming to not take life for granted so much. I am coming to understand and experience all of life as sacred. The things I perceive as difficult or those things I perceive as blessings have all become sacred to me in everyday life.
- A life that is not reducible by division, category, or degree
Wendell Berry says in his book The Way Of Ignorance, “When Jesus speaks of having life more abundantly, this, I think, is the life He means: a life that is not reducible by division, category, or degree, but is one thing, heavenly and earthly, spiritual and material, divided only insofar as it is embodied in distinct creatures…”
- Discover our way out of this sacred/secular divide
To experience abundant life as the body of Christ is to discover our way out of this sacred/secular divide. It is to see all of life as miracle, gift, sacred. These categories of sacred/secular cannot exist when faithful presence is embodied within us as the body of Christ in the parish.
- A conversion to seeing all of life as sacred
We enter into a holistic spirituality when the sacred/secular divide disappears and is forgotten. It seems that all great people of faith experienced a conversion to seeing all of life as sacred. They were blinded to the idea of the secular. The secular had no relevance.
- The boxes of the sacred/secular divide
Our lives cannot be reduced to be lived within the boxes of the sacred/secular divide. We scream that we want out. We put up the boundary to the secular. We live in the Christ of the sacred, in our locality, in the abundance of our spirituality.
- The sacred infuses everything we are
There is no turning back. We forget the illusion of the secular and embrace all of life as sacred. The sacred infuses everything we are as the body of Christ in the parish. The sacred is friendly, beautiful, good and trustworthy.
- Sacredness can only be experienced in the tangible, material world
There is an abundance to the sacredness of life. Sacredness can only be experienced in the tangible, material world of the place we live. The sacred does not exist anywhere else except in the here and now of everyday life together. The body of Christ needs to embrace the sacredness of all of life in our neighborhood, our relationships, our work together in community.
- There is no escaping the sacredness of life
Everything is sacred. I want to repeat that: Everything is sacred, but sometimes we can’t see it or don’t understand it as our embodied experience! There is no escaping the sacredness of life. We will be led to freedom from the sacred/secular divide through the mystical imagination.
How can we embody the sacredness of all of life?