The word “sacred” itself conjures all kinds of thoughts, ideas, and meanings. Sometimes these are good, rich, and beautiful; other times, not so much. I’m committed to the former. Even more, I’m committed to healing the latter, to redefining the sacred. You get to make it your own, to imbue meaning into any and everything that helps you discover the sacred within. And that – the sacred within – is the most divine thing you could possibly do.
Every Monday this month, I’m looking at various aspects of the sacred and inviting you to redefine them for yourself. Because you can. Because you must. Because the sacred is you, you know. The real, holy you. And you matter. A lot.
It’s official definition? The ritual or script for various forms of public worship. (I would extend this to private/personal worship, as well. Because I can…As can you.)
People who know my personal history with the church often ask me if I miss it. It’s been 10 years since I attended, after 47 prior – nearly every Sunday spent within. My answer is always, “No…except for, sometimes, the liturgy.” Not the sermons. Not the theology or doctrine within. Not the politics. None of that. But every once-in-a-while, those well-worn words I still know by heart. The call and response. The recited language of communion or baptism. Ritual I came to expect and rely upon.
No matter how far I might travel from my heritage, the cradle of faith that once rocked, I can read or hear familiar words and immediately be transported to a different place – a sacred place. It is liturgy that takes me there.
Liturgy like this – a reading in preparation for worship (via my roots in the Presbyterian church) – recited in unison:
We praise you, we worship you, we adore you.
You hold the heavens in your hand,
all stars rejoice in your glory.
You come in the sunrise and the song of morn
and bless the splendor of the noonday.
The stars in their courses magnify you,
day and night tell of your glory.
Your peace blows over the earth
and the breath of your mouth fills all space.
Your voice comes in the thunder of the storm
and the song of the wind whispers of your majesty.
You satisfy all things living with your abundance
and our hearts bow at your presence.
Accept us, your children, Eternal God,
and hearken to our prayer.
Bend over us, Eternal Love, and bless us.
Or liturgy like this (far from my roots and yet, feeling closer to the deeper, truer ones than ever before):
I call on my feelings:
Feelings of a lifetime, I hard your clamor. Your containment has been self-destructive. Please rise slowly from the depths of me. Rise, so I am listen to you and come to know you. Now I am ready.
I invoke my dreams:
Dreams, push through my reluctance to hear you. There is a part of me that longs to listen to your rich messages. you remind me to trust my inner life, to discern its intricate design, and to listen to its healing truth.
I invite the Spirit resident within my childhood, imagined as The child I Once Was, to tell me her stories:
Little girl, why have you been so petrified? Why do you so powerfully hold on to life, controlling its every moment? How skillful you are at sensing love’s approach. How quickly you take the offensive so you will never have to allow love to seep into that deep hiding place behind your locked door. When did you go behind that door from which you intricately maneuver the details of life to suit you? What is your master plan? What is its motivation? (from A God Who Looks Like Me by Patricia Lynn Reilly)
Different from one another, to be sure – these two examples. And — wisdom, and power in acknowledging tradition and history, ritual and language, old and new – liturgy all, so that I can be fed and nurtured by the same.
Reclaiming the sacred means that I give myself permission to honor what did and still does touch me, strengthen me, and draw me ever-closer to the Divine; what I re-imagine and redefine today, still, ongoing.
You have permission, too.
What would liturgy be for you? What might you dream, envision, even draft? What ritual and language could you craft that would touch you, strengthen you, and draw you ever-closer to the Divine? Perhaps yours is based on the cycles of the moon or your cycle, an indigenous culture, a Tarot reading, a goddess, the elements: earth, air, water, fire. What speaks? What moves you? What invites you to worship? May I repeat: you have permission.
So…you are invited to do exactly this!
This week, create (or rewrite or dig up or dust off) some liturgy and reclaim the sacred for yourself – on your own terms, in your own ways, through your own lens, on behalf of your own experience. Because you can. Because you must. Because the sacred is you, you know. The real, holy you. And you matter. A lot.
Next week, Part 2 – Prayer
The most powerful way in which a woman experiences the sacred on her terms is when she becomes more and more of her (sacred) self: confident, strong, vulnerable, tender, all of these and then some. There is nothing I want more than for you to know and experience exactly this. Which is why it’s what I talk about – and offer – over and over (and over) again. Learn more: www.ronnadetrick.com/start-here
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