On Sacredness, Reverence, Fear and Flatulence
Two Saturday’s ago I conducted a small group session at the Reston, VA, Unitarian Universalist church. As part of my group preparation, I use music to help me turn up the volume of my connection and tune out the extraneous noise. On this day, I chose to use a 33Bowls track called Morning. While the singing bowls were singing, an older man hesitantly walked through the sanctuary door, then walked out. He returned in a few minutes with a strange look on his face and asked if he could interrupt to move two tables into storage. I said, “Well, sure” and grabbed one of them to help out. As he was leaving, he apologized quietly but profusely for interrupting. When I attempted to ensure him that there was no interruption, he shared that he heard/felt the sacred music and thought his entering the space was an intrusion–essentially an intrusion into the sacred. Stunned is the wrong word to describe what I immediately felt when he said that. I think I was a little stunned and a little confused. I then continued with the session without thinking more of it until the next day.
I’ve let the thoughts about this experience noodle around in the noggin for a week and was pushed to write when my Photo A Day appeared in the inbox & bopped me upside the head. It depicted an Orthodox priest pleading with a policeman to not attack protesters in Serbia. Maybe my experience (or lack thereof) in all things ‘spiritual’ skews how I view the sacred. Maybe not. Either way, I noticed that my response to the priest being what some might call un-holy as well as unruly as more in touch with the sacred than the man who hesitated in the beauty of the music & energy. I’ve not quite expressed that the way I mean to because in my world, nothing is really more ‘sacred’ than any other thing. I just can’t articulate the different responses to these two situations in quite another manner at this point.
To me, the idea that anything ‘sacred’ should be approached with hesitation, a sense of ‘interrupting something special’ or actions/emotions linked to separation or fear feels foreign to me. That the toning of singing bowls would appear to another more sacred than a good fart is beyond me. I’ve already shared that I don’t assign any more significance to a polished stone than I do a folding chair and this is a kind of continuation of that. That the particular toning of bowls feels divine is a given. So is a well-timed fart. It makes you feel much better and, if that well-timed is timed ‘just so’, the hilarity it brings lightens the load of more than just the gas-passer. Come on now, you know it! You’ve done it and laughed when others did! You also pick your nose but we’ll not get into that here.