What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?
Oh, this is a lovely word. This has layers upon layers.
A hymnbook – of which we must have had more than one copy, since I remember it being both small and red and large and black, and being both in the revolving bookcase and on top of the piano – with gold lettering on the spine. Sacred Songs and Solos. Greeting it like an old friend when it showed up in Huntingtower.
A pious-eyed Victorian woman with abundant auburn curls and hands clasped across her prayer-book (I have a specific picture in mind; it is entitled “Our Father”).
Noticing how it is an anagram of scared.
Remembering how Havi had a whole sequence of Wishes that included I see the secret holiness of everything. Enjoying the consonance: secret sacred secret sacred secret sacred
Reading On the Road, and discovering that, while it is very much the Urgent Thrusting Phallic Man Book that I feared it would be, it is also about the secret holiness of everything. Then I got on to Ginsberg, and particularly Footnote to Howl. And went back to St John of the Cross, and walking alongside the park at sunrise, and suddenly everything was trembling with the sacred.
(Those deep pink blossoms I noticed this morning, when I was pretending it was day 3: the sunset light has caught two or three branches, and they glow around the edge. There. That’s what I mean.)
“Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb.” – A Tree Full of Angels, Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B.
Walking my head around the wonders I already knew: Maundy Thursday seven years ago, sharing pasta and sardines with my best friend, in a narrow little hostel in La Rioja, and suddenly understanding the point of the Incarnation: that God has become part of creation, which is sufficient for redemption alone. God said that it was good, and became part of it to prove it. The rest of it need not have happened, but was always going to, because that is the way the world works.
And, understanding further, a different walk and on my own this time, west through a pine wood towards Yarmouth, that what was sacred because God made it is sacred beyond all imagining now that God has become part of it, and that every atom of this universe and every other one is suffused with the divine, and that there is holiness in all of us and in all of creation, if only we can see it.
The sacred is secret, but it does not always stay that way.