Have you ever walked into an old church or another identified sacred space, and felt the accrual of holiness? Layers of fragrance and energy stop you and draw you to a pew, or a nearby rock, to sit and be bathed in ancient and echoing voices seeking answers and the quest of satisfied hearts connecting with Love. At its core is utter stillness.
Sacred spaces invite our deep listening and bring us to a readiness for enlightenment, however fragile. We know we were meant to be here, in this place, and that we’ll leave changed.
For twenty-five years now, the trail beside my home has been an intimate sacred space for me, a human-scaled reminder that the universe is all sacred space, inviting us to dance with Love, but we need our little churches to personalize such profound relationship, to learn the steps to this infinite dance. I bring my questions, my sorrow, joy, anger, dreams, and yearning to my walks along the trail and it always leaves me changed and grateful. This is how I pray. (“How I pray is, breathe,” wrote Thomas Merton. Yes.)
Early this morning, Phillip and the pups had to circumvent another fallen tree blocking the bike trail heading west. A huge limb of a cherry tree had ripped from the main trunk. When I went for my walk, in the opposite direction, I stopped on the bridge to scan for birds and glanced back towards the fallen tree. A helmeted biker, decked out in a team uniform with a number pinned to his back stood, perplexed, dragging his bike around the tree and possibly wondering if he could move it. But it was far too heavy and he seemed intent on continuing his ride, quickly passing me on the bridge with a friendly, “Good Morning.”
Then, I remembered this was Day 2 of a biking event called Ride Across Wisconsin, and our trail was part of the course, depending on the riders’ choices. I’d missed the bike traffic yesterday while visiting a friend in Madison.
It was early, so bikers were scarce, but as I continued east, in the direction of the Ride, they began to pass in two’s and three’s, or the occasional blitz of bikes zipped by in a line, their riders chatting back and forth, enjoying the beautiful morning. Most greeted me and I, them.
By the time I turned back toward home, the traffic had increased. Every few yards, I was offered a “Good Morning!” and returned one with a smile. Then, there would be a break, and soon another “Good Morning! What a beautiful day!” would be shared. Waves of peaceful connection were flowing up and down the trail. Joyful people.
And then I felt the shift within. That moment of insight, of naming the change that’s happening. When listening meets meaning. I stepped to the side of the trail to greet the next bikers and felt tears in my eyes. The stream of bikers abated, and I had a few minutes alone to realize I hadn’t had this much steady contact with strangers for well over two years…and we were blessing each other. The authentic grace of wishing someone a “Good Morning” was so present and alive, and offered so freely and joyfully. These were not those early morning mumbled, half-aware greetings I recall from school entrances or office and hospital hallways. These were exchanges between people seeing each other, true namastes.
I know some of this happiness was generated by our “weekend joy,” the calls of relieved people pursuing their passion outdoors in all the surrounding beauty. Kindness sometimes comes more readily from the high created when we can indulge in the freedom to choose how our precious minutes will be spent. But still, good medicine for all can heal all; the spirit boost from these encounters can keep flowing when we give ourselves such time in sacred spaces. (And perhaps we could examine more earnestly why our weekday hours are designed to so deplete joyful connection.)
And when I arrived home again, I asked Phillip if he could get his saw and we could remove the fallen tree, which we did, chatting with riders coming through, and receiving their “Thank you’s!”
We walked home and I considered the fruits of my morning walk. Like all sacred spaces, the trail had offered my heart’s readiness a dose of insight, and it had renewed my spirit. I felt lightened by all those shining exchanges with strangers. I held them in my heart.
We are not what the media tell us we are. We’re neither hate-filled towards the other or interested in a civil war. The extrapolations the media make from some-to-all are false. We’re mostly kind, friendly, grateful for a beautiful day, and happy to share its blessing with others.
There is serious work to be done on our planet, and in our country and communities, but today, I felt great hope that we can accomplish a lot together by greeting each other with genuine blessing and parting with gratitude for the chance to spend even a moment together in the sacred space we share. May all your “Good Morning’s” be genuine and may all your mornings be good.
A few of the wildflowers blooming on the trail this week:
© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.