Seeking the sacred

I heard about a hit-and-run that happened in our area last week from a police officer friend of mine.  He was just telling me about it on Saturday night, when I brought him maple syrup from our  maple tree tapping outing we went to that day.  Four county correctional officers were struck by an SUV while they were jogging Tuesday night.  Three of them were injured, but one of them, a 25 year old mother of a 5 month old, died at the scene of the accident.

He was also telling me other horror stories of what goes wrong in this area and on the news.  I often wonder if he has any positive stories about anything to talk about.  I worked in a crime lab for 5 years, I know all about the horrific things that can happen between people but I don’t go talking about them.

On Sunday, I read more about the story as I was recycling the newspapers.  We get the newspaper, but I limit my intake of news as much as possible.  I don’t bury my head in the sand, but I do limit how much I want to know about.

As life would have it, there are some things we are made to see.  My husband and I were on our way back from lunch and we noticed a few police cars on the road we took home.  As we traveled further, we saw a few more and he commented to me that this might be the funeral procession for the fallen officer.  We traveled up a bridge and as we crested we could see the flashing blue and red lights of many more police cars, probably about 2 miles long, from local police stations to that of neighboring counties.  My first thought was how stunning it was…and my second thought was how tragic it was.

I burst out into tears.   I didn’t know this woman at all.  But I am a mother of three beautiful girls and I thought about this woman’s child, who would never get to know her mother.  And I thought about my own death and hoped that my daughters will not lose me prematurely (it’s one of my worst fears as a mother, second only to losing one of my daughters or my husband).  As we watched the procession, not just police cars, but officers on motorcycles and finally civilian cars I thought about how many people were going to be there today, honoring this life cut short.

The newspaper describes her as having a ‘radiant’ smile…pictures at the wake on Sunday that ‘showed the brightness of the life she lived’…that she was the type of person that ‘lit up the room’.

It’s stuff like this that shakes me up a little and makes me want to sure I’m making good on my promises to be a better person.  I would hope when it’s my time to go, that I could be remembered like that.  Not the times when I was cranky, or the times I was depressed, or the times when I just wasn’t that much fun to be around.  I try to be that type of person that always has a ready smile, open arms and spreads a little joy around.  I’m not always successful, but I’m getting better at finding my Zen when I need it.

And writing helps some.  It, too, helps me focus on what I value.  Like people over possessions, like family, friendship and deep connectedness, rather than career and material goods and superficial relationships.  I feel sad for this infant child.  And, while I’m not judging her mother’s reason for working, it makes you wonder if this woman’s life would have been better spent at home with her child.  I can’t help but think that she would still be here had it not been for that work-related incident.

I’m not criticizing working mothers (I was one because my husband was laid off for a year and you have to do what you have to do to get by)…but I am saying that this mother might have been spared if the U.S. had better policies and support for mothers staying at home with the children.

Sometimes, just when I want to be sad that I gave up my career for my daughters, something like this comes along that makes me very, very grateful that I did come home to be with them.  Being here to watch them develop has been well worth it.   But I’m not a saint.  This has been a tough gig to get used to.  Long hours, no pay, lack of readily identifiable rewards, the tendency to be isolated because everyone else is busy building careers.

I came home to write this blog post still with fresh tears in my eyes.  I realize I’ve turned into my grandmother, who frequently wept at the drop of a hat.  I guess I understand it better now that I’m getting older, have lost a few friends to death over the years, I and my family and friends have acquired a few more health problems, and overall feel the fragility of life.

I think it’s time now to turn to the book I just recently purchased but have put off reading in favor of reading other things.  The book is called Seeking the Sacred: Transforming Our View of Ourselves and One Another by Stephanie Dowrick.

From the first page:

Our search for the sacred may be as individual as our fingerprints.  Yet it connects us effortlessly to all living beings.  It lets us discover what is most treasured and transformative in human existence.  It lets us see existence itself as entirely precious.  What we regard as precious, we naturally protect.

From the sacred, we may learn enough to keep one another safe.

Seeking the sacred does not distance us from the real; it defines the real.  Touching the sacred through and within our everyday experiences, we come to a new sense of who and what we are.  I see the value of your existence.  I see myself with a new gratitude and respect.   We become freer to live from the inside out.

The sacred is source as well as inspiration for profound inner transformation – for “waking up”.  It is an opening of the heart and a training of the mind.  It identifies holiness and brings it.  The sacred is the source of being for many and the meaning of life for many more.  It may also be “God”, but not inevitably.

I’ve been thinking about living my values lately.  I think I get depressed when I veer from them and I feel enormously better when I do live by them and make time to look for the sacred in everyday experiences, or changing up the way I do things.  I thought about this while I was making banana bread for the first time in my life yesterday.

Sometimes, it’s these simple things that make my life much more meaningful.  I felt a really warm feeling when my daughters asked for a slice of banana bread and said it was yummy.  I can’t get that kind of warm fuzzy feeling from any store bought snacks.

Sometimes, while doing something domestic, that small still voice comes up to me and tells me about what I want out of life…which I’ll soon start writing down and planning for.  I have a vision of what I’d like to be doing…and just need to make it happen.

And it got me to wondering about my readers [all three of them ;)]

What do you do to seek the sacred in your life? 

Are you doing what you want to be doing?  Or are you doing what you are because that’s what looks good, pays bills or otherwise ‘have to’ do?

****

update 3/13/2012 –

I read in the paper today that there were nearly 800 people in attendance of this female officer’s funeral.   Incredibly poignant story.

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About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in Grief and Loss, Mindfulness, Observations from Life, Personal growth, Seeking the sacred, spirituality, Stories from My Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Seeking the sacred

  1. Casey says:

    Reblogged this on The Sprightly Writer and commented:

    I wanted to reblog this post as I was reminded of it today when I was having a conversation with another blogger and one of his blog visitors, who happens to be a dear friend of mine. I wanted to share this anew for my newer readers who haven’t gone into the archives.

  2. ptero9 says:

    Thanks for reblogging that post! I was very touched by so much of what you wrote.
    It’s really valuable for me to revisit old posts, for so many reasons, and makes me happy that I write 🙂
    This post is very insightful and reminds me too how important it is to keep close to the little things we do and can do, to help ourselves and help others.
    Being human is hard, we can’t always have a nice day, and there are changes that come, so good ones and some difficult ones. In that we all share and that helps for me to know.
    I was hiking yesterday with my husband, and the road up to the trailhead meandered through a cow pasture and the cows were very close to the fence where we walked by them. I was so struck by their ability to make eye contact with me, that I felt their presence in a way that was surprisingly sacred. Maybe that is partly why cows are sacred in some cultures, or maybe it was just the day.
    But, I won’t soon forget the eyes of that cow, the connection that I felt with that brief moment of contact.
    I used to be jealous of people who I saw as not having this sensitivity that I’ve always felt, but the older I get the better able I am to trust in it and allow a moment with a cow, or whatever is in my path, to get to me.
    Thank you for reminding me to be mindful of the gifts we receive Casey! 🙂

    • Casey says:

      You’re very welcome, Debra!

      I am glad you went hiking with your hubby. I love your cow story. I’m frequently drawn to animals when I’m out in nature, though the 3 of the four furry friends I have in my own home were quite demanding mess-makers. It was often hard to appreciate them as they were frustrating much of the time (crying for food, or barking to get out or in).

      I was very, very close to our pet rat, who didn’t ask for much and was quiet and friendly. I took her out of her cage frequently to spend time and play with her.

      When we had to put her to sleep because she started getting tumors, I cried, hard. She was my little pal.

      I’m currently in recovery for some of my choices that led to deep spiritual harm. I’m working through it, and I use my writing to focus on the small blessings and the joy when sometimes all I feel is pain.

      I, too, love revisiting old writings of mine. To see where I’ve been and what how far I’ve come.

      I imagine my writing will take a turn in the coming months, too, because I’m going to be joining a recovery group. I’m scared, but I have to heal these deep rifts in my soul and I have gone as long as I could relatively on my own. Yes, I have a therapist, but the only way I can feel safe with others if I can practice with other people.

      Warmly,

      Casey

      • ptero9 says:

        I’m happy for you and wish you well with the new group.
        Your closeness to your pet rat is touching. Animals have taught me so much about giving and receiving love. I am grateful, because I needed a way to love and be loved.
        As a lonely teenager, who had to move into her mothers’ boyfriends house for 4 months, which meant attending a new school, I used to sing Michael Jackson’s song Ben, to and from school. I didn’t have a pet rat, and my one pet cat had to stay behind in our old house, but that song helped me survive a very tough 4 months.
        Peace, Debra

      • Casey says:

        Thanks Debra,

        I’ve already been in contact with the group leader, and I received a brief, but warm response.

        Snowflake, our albino rat, we ‘adopted’ from my daughters’ class. She was one of two that they used to ‘experiment’ with. One was fed a diet of sugar water and fruits and vegetables, and one was fed a diet with milk and fruits and vegetables. Snowflake was the one fed with the sugar water. It turned out that they had to cut the experiment short because Snowflake got so lethargic, the teacher thought she was close to dying. After she started getting milk, she bounced back and lived for 2 years.

        We put her down about 2 weeks ago.

        Yes, I’ve always loved tiny creatures. We also raised tadpoles to toadlets, and I found a toad at the park once and took it home. You can see our Toad Chronicles on my science blog.

        http://theexplorationstation.wordpress.com/the-toad-chronicles/

        I’m a bit nutty in that post, I know. But nature thrills me sometimes. I’ve been thrilled by nature since the days I was catching blue-tailed lizards with the boy next door.

        I learned I could safely be passionate without having to be on guard around animals.

        I’ve never head of MJ’s song Ben, thanks for sharing, I’m listening to it right now.

        I share your special affinity with music too. I was just thinking about the one song I played over and over on my Fisher Price record player while I was a scared a little 10 year old girl. The record was my step-dad’s and I loved it and that record so much. About the same year, my dad smacked me on the face and sent my glasses flying. I told my oldest sister, who was abusing me physically, that I hated her in front of him. I was holding my baby brother, whom I loved dearly, and he thought I was talking about him. But I wasn’t.

        This song was medicinal for my soul…

        When you’re weary
        Feeling small
        When tears are in your eyes
        I will dry them all

        I’m on your side
        When times get rough
        And friends just can’t be found
        Like a bridge over troubled water
        I will lay me down
        Like a bridge over troubled water
        I will lay me down

        When you’re down and out
        When you’re on the street
        When evening falls so hard
        I will comfort you

        I’ll take your part
        When darkness comes
        And pain is all around
        Like a bridge over troubled water
        I will lay me down
        Like a bridge over troubled water
        I will lay me down

        Sail on Silver Girl,
        Sail on by
        Your time has come to shine
        All your dreams are on their way

        See how they shine
        If you need a friend
        I’m sailing right behind
        Like a bridge over troubled water
        I will ease your mind
        Like a bridge over troubled water
        I will ease your mind

        Snippets of that song has come back to me over and over again over the years.

  3. Reblogged this on Teilhard de Chardin and commented:
    I am reblogging this very meaningful and poignant reflection about ultimate meaning as I am going through some (hopefully short-term) challenges in some of my important relationships at the moment.

    Peace,
    W. Ockham

    • Casey says:

      Thank you so much for the re-blog, William.

      I wanted to tell you that meant a great deal to me that you reblogged my post. I hope your “(hopefully short-term) challenges in your important relationships” ease up and soon.

      Warmly,

      Casey

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