Sacrament. I love the word–it’s fun to say…
More than that, however, I love what it means.
A Sacrament is essentially anything finite through which The Sacred (or God or The Spirit) becomes present to us. So, while the sacraments with which we may be most familiar- Holy Communion, Baptism, etc.- certainly function in this way, there is also room for, and a need to acknowledge, the validity of experiences of God in our everyday lives by anyone and everyone who is open to such experiences.
A long run (if you’re a runner like me), or an especially wonderful yoga class, or watching your children play on their own, or a brilliant time with friends (please insert your own finite thing or activity here_____) can all be sacramental in their function if we are open to that possibility.
Recently, just after a long run, as it would happen, I happened upon a brilliant performance of an Antonio Scarlatti piano sonata played by Vladimir Horowitz on my iPhone. I had it set for a post-run shuffle, and as I walked to cool down, the piece began to play.
I let the solo piano flow through my ear-buds as I walked along the sidewalk on my way back to my front door. I was completely transported. For five minutes, I was dreaming, imagining, immersed in listening, and baptized in the connectedness of an audience (me), a performer (Horowitz), and a composer (Scarlatti). We were connected in a profound way by something much greater than any single one of us in this transaction.
The art of music was a sacrament for me in that moment. Scarlatti’s piano sonata re-awakened me to the very presence of God. I knew God was present with me at that moment and was honored to be reminded of that fact.
And that’s one of the things that sacrament can do–remind us of the very presence of God.
I was reminded of how valuable and important I am to the Spirit and felt an unexplainable notion that I was being given a very special gift in that moment. The feeling that filled me next was one of complete gratitude. I was so grateful to have been able to experience such beauty and connectedness.
I never, for one moment, felt like God was giving me something so that he could charge me with doing something else. I never felt as though God was saying, “You want more of this? Then do more of that!” I just felt that I was being given a gift, a sacramental moment, a “thin place” as the Celtic Christians used to say.
I think the only thing required of me was that I was open to receiving this gift. Period. What I did with it afterward was my business.
I want to be in the business of being a part of as many of these moments as I can for the rest of my life and rejoicing with others when they can do the same.
I wish you peace and joy!