My family attended First Timothy Baptist Church during every one of my formative years. Prior to coming of age and exploring the world on my own, this is the place that taught me everything about religion. If I quote a bible verse, chances are I learned it there. Southern Baptist Churches have their own set of rules and sacred practices. Wearing white gloves to touch certain items, or never “crossing the pulpit,” for example. Crossing the pulpit was a MAJOR NO-NO and Ms. Doretha would deliver wrath upon your head should you even look like you’re about to take a step in that direction. For years I watched people walk all the way down one side of the choir stand, into the aisles, and back up the other side of the choir stand just to get to their destination and avoid crossing the pulpit.
Until one day someone crossed it. And nothing happened. I was floored by the lack of consequences. So this was one of the first times my eyes were opened to the arbitrary nature of society’s rules. It would be years before the “I don’t give a fuck” of present day shenanigans kicked in, but I’m sure that day was a building block towards anarchy.
Anyway, in relation to what is Sacred and what is not. I’ve learned that it’s hard to appreciate value when I’m drunk. (Stay with me here) I’m not talking about: inebriated, tipsy, intoxicated, or just under-the-influence. I’m referring to the hopefully rare occasion where I’m: destroyed, hammered, loaded, plastered, smashed, twisted, and (white boy) wasted. When I’ve reached this point of the journey from sober-town, I’d pay the same for a cheeseburger as I would a full three course meal. My ability to attend to the details of the things my sober self would normally care about escapes me; and all of a sudden it’s fine if a friend smokes in my car, flirting and making out with a stranger isn’t that big of a deal, cursing out and fist fighting fraternity brothers is surely the right thing to do from time to time, yes?
Money, possessions, relationships, and a sense of self-preservation are all thrown out the door at some point. Looking at the world through the lens of intoxication, nothing is sacred. But of course this is not reality. I do care about how much I spend on this cheeseburger, and I do care about my relationship, and I do love my friends. I don’t want to do anything to put myself in jeopardy. It all means something to me.
What is interesting is how we are all drunk when it comes to accepting the rules and regulations of society. Instead of seeing this world as the structured prison for individuality and freedom it is, we buy into the game that is being sold. We treat money, prestige, and power as significant outcomes to work. We question, demean, and correct anyone who steps out of line. Should someone cross the pulpit by dancing in the middle of the street, or shouting love poetry from their seat on the train, or failing to turn in their TPS reports on time; they are quickly admonished by those who are “sane” or “responsible.” It is believed that civilization cannot function if people are going to be themselves. “We need drones and robots and compliant workers in order to prosper.”
And for this reason we are blitzed, bombed, hooched-up, juiced, obliterated, and just plain ol shit-faced. In the book “Life, Love, Laughter” Osho explains how we can “Sober Up.” He says we can now stop playing games and pretending like one day we’re not all going to die. We can right now wake up to the fact that we are here for a reason, and every moment we spend on something other than working towards that Purpose is Wasted (pun intended). He Says Sober Up! Your life is passing by right now, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Sober Up! Soon you will be incapable, and soon you will be dead. Sober Up! Be who your Soul came here to be, their rules cannot stop you, and their expectations cannot define you. Sober Up! This is not a game, you are alive right now and You get to decide what is Sacred, You get to decide what is Important, You get to decide when to dance, when to pray, who to love, how to worship, and what feels good. Sober Up!
And then Thich Nhat Hanh says this type of awareness is a “matter of life-and-death.” This path we travel is the most serious and everything you do with your time, Washing Dishes, Using the Toilet, Drinking Tea, Everything You Do With Your Time Is The Most Important Thing In The World When You Are Doing It. And for this reason it is Sacred.
Personally, I don’t want to wait anymore. I choose to believe there is nothing more sacred or profound than this day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold. The big moments are the daily, tiny moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we grab on to and extend to one another. Today is your big moment. Moments, really. The life you’ve been waiting for is happening all around you. The scene unfolding outside your window is worth more than the most beautiful painting, and the crackers and peanut butter that you’re having for lunch on the coffee table are as profound, in their own way, as the Last Supper. You are more than dust and bones. You are spirit and power and image of God. And you have been given Today.
To a truly sober mind, Everything is Sacred.
With Love and a Grateful Open Heart,