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.
If you have ever been part of a church, you will probably agree that at its very best, the people are who made it what it was. You can picture the women who always sat in the same pews – and who had been there for forever-and-a-day. You can picture the couple who was married there, then baptized their first child, now their second. You remember the first pastor, priest, rabbi, Imam, who was there – and those who followed. You recall times spent in conversation after a service, over a cup of coffee, maybe a gathering in someone’s home. Community.
And it is this, I believe, that we are most sorely lacking in today’s post-church world.
I’m not suggesting we go back to the past. This Post-Christendom reality feels true, even right to me: new paradigms, practices, and certainly communities of faith are overdue. I’m also not suggesting that the only way in which community can be experienced is within the context of the church – a building, a Sunday morning, liturgy, prayer, and text. What I am suggesting, if not asserting, is this:
A large and transformative aspect of the sacred is only found in relationship with others, in community.
We need others. We need each other. And we would be well-served to go about the work (which it most definitely can be) of building community into our lives.
What might this look like – and how might it already be present for you, just not named in sacred terms?
A Facebook group. I won’t say that Facebook itself is community; in fact, it’s often the antithesis of such. But like any and all technology, it can be used in ways that are redemptive and meaningful. Different from the mammoth platform itself, a private group comes together for a particular purpose, strives to create and build relationship – actual knowing of one another, seeing, relating, caring; it can be community, to be sure. (Slightly self-promotional, but if you haven’t already, join my Notes From Her Facebook group. You’re invited, welcomed, and wanted.)
A virtual circle of women. I’m so grateful to have this powerfully active and present in my life. I meet weekly with one particular group and look forward to such far more than I ever did a Sunday morning in church. We commune. It is sacramental. There is ritual – a liturgy of-sorts. Certainly prayer – as we speak of our desires and challenges and greatest thanksgiving together. And there is text – the writing we bring and share and praise and worship on each other’s behalf.
A face-to-face gathering of women. I have this, as well; particular friends with whom I can count on and in whose presence I choose to be with relative consistency. Their physical presence, their awareness of my story – and my history (and mine of theirs), and our open, honest sharing together cannot be named as anything other than sacred. Full of meaning. Rich. Transformational. It is when we are truly accepted, loved, seen and heard that we are truly ourselves. And, as I’ve said multiple times in this month’s posts, when we are truly ourselves, we are the sacred – enfleshed, embodied, real. Can I get an “amen”?
My friend Amy Palko regularly participates in a Red Tent ceremony. Ritual and liturgy abound. The sacred is most definitely present. And community is what summons and supports such. She is also part of a knitting group – women who gather weekly to share their love for the craft; more, their time, creativity, stories, and very selves. More of the sacred – on their terms, to be sure!
In the goddess and priestess traditions, this was a given: gatherings of women. Sometimes secreted away, other times blatant and bold, women spent time with each other because they knew of the power they would find, share, and promulgate when they joined forces. This explains why so many of these communities of women were banned throughout time: far too dangerous. Exactly! This also explains why we find ourselves so hungry for and drawn to such today, yes? Our soul knows what it needs, what can only be mirrored and expressed through each other, through community with one another.
Of course, sacred community is hardly exclusive to only women…and…in a commitment to redefine the sacred on our own terms, it is hugely important that we have such: sacred places, sacred women – just like us. Just like you.
As we (re)define the sacred on our own terms, community is one of the most powerful ways in which we move from idea to reality, from belief to praxis, from heart to action.
This is yours to desire, yours to know and experience, and yours to create. You have permission on all counts!
So…do exactly this!
Carve out some time this week to list out the forms of community you have known in the past and the benefits that were yours because of such. Next, list out the forms of community you have today. Compare and contrast the two and wonder (with grace and curiosity and kindness) what more-and-new community might look and feel like. Who are the women you can gather? What is the community you can form? How might the sacred be yours – and on your terms – when you lean into these oft’ missing aspects of what it means to be a sacred being who walks the earth? You deserve to partake. And you have complete permission to do so!
So, as is true with liturgy, prayer, and text – so too, community. This is how you 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 when that you stands alongside other women who are their real and holy selves? Wow. That matters. A lot.
Next week, Part 5 – God. (I know, it’s a pretty big topic…)
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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