In the first post in this series, Time … Part 1, we suggested an alternative way of marking our time. Instead of seeing our lives as passing only through seconds, months, years, we should evaluate our time based on the sacred moments in them. What is significant about a marriage is not the amount of years that have passed, but the frequency in which the hearts of the participants of that marriage have connected. Saying that I have been married for ten years is vastly different than saying its been two months since my wife and I met in a sacred moment. Seeing and experiencing sacred times will be difficult for us because their nature is in conflict with much of what our culture values.
First, sacred moments are outside of our control. Typically, they involve communing with another, a significant other or The Significant Other. We cannot control when a friend, a lover or God will choose, as a free being, to enter into our lives. The best we can do is order our lives in expectation of these moments. We can look for them, but we cannot create them.
Second, sacred time is always mysterious, subjective and vanishes upon examination; it is non-transferable. When we make a deep connection that brings meaning to our lives, it is normal to copy the events that “led” to that moment, but it does not come again in the same manner. Likewise, when we try to share our moments so others can enjoy them, our sacred times cease. Jesus taught us to pray in a closet, because the sacred is a secret.
Third, the sacred is risky. Opening our lives to the possibility of the sacred involves risk because the moment we’re looking for might not arrive in our timing. Each of us has planned special occasions that turned out ordinary. It can be heartbreaking to fail to experience the connection we need. Many find it better to lose themselves in social media, television or sports, which will always deliver some amusement, than to take the chance to hope for something more.
Finally, sacred moments are often preceded by lots of waiting. Is there anything we hate more than waiting? Waiting is boring, passive, pointless, infuriating. It seems the main goal of our society and every person living in it is to remove waiting and boredom from existence. Yet, without expectant waiting, all time will pass one moment on top of another until our moments are up. Cultivating the capacity to wait, to meditate, to read, to sit in conversation, to be together without something to distract us, is essential to experiencing the sacred.
In part 3 of this series, we hope to examine the false sacred moments offered by our culture to make up for the absence of true sacred time. These false sacred moments are within our control, easily reproduced, safer, and far more exciting, but in the end they are only ordinary.