When we contemplate the “sacred,” we envision our personal idea of Creator, or a place that made us feel a special connection to The Divine, thus making it sacred. When we consider sacred time, we remember moments in life that were spiritually fulfilling. Time can be defined in Greek as either Kronos or Kairos. Kronos speaks of the chronological schedule we live by in our work and event gatherings; quantitative. Kairos speaks of the right, critical, or opportune moment; qualitative, permanent nature. I view Kairos as a fullness of time; when we no longer sense the existence of Kronos time because we are fully engaged in a moment, an event, or a meditative connection with The Divine. For me, sacred time is Kairos time.
All faith communities have sacred time, such as Easter, Ramadan, and Sabbath celebrations specific to the Abrahamic religions, but is sacred time reserved only for those moments in our faith that are meaningful and scheduled, or can we create our own sacred time? The answer for some is an easy yes, but others may struggle with the idea that we can create our own Divine sacred time.
Is all time sacred? A Buddhist would probably say yes. Practicing meditation is a foundation in Buddhism as is being mindful in everything we do. From time with Creation, to washing dishes, praying and eating, being mindful at all times is part of the Buddhist’s way of life.
Native American friends taught me that, “Yesterday is history, Tomorrow a mystery, but Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present.” In today’s present, we need to stay home and stay safe from the Coronavirus. We are no longer gathering with our faith communities for worship. Until the virus is controlled or a viable vaccine is created, we must keep our members safe. Many have turned to online worship services and podcasts to connect with faith communities. Jeanette, my wife, and I do a weekly podcast for our congregations, giving opportunity for our members to create their own sacred time with scripture.
During my Master’s in Transformational Leadership I discovered my theology to be Creation based, recognizing humans as an intricate part of Creation, and how Creator gives us humans the responsibility to care for all plants, animals and the Earth itself. Therefore, for me, creating sacred time starts with grounding myself with Creation, being present to all life around me for as far as I can see, and hear, focusing on all the animals sounds. In Spring, the most prevalent sounds come from birds and frogs. I listen carefully to what birds seem to be answering each other from various trees. When I lived in the Northwest, I used to listen to the Great Horned Owls as they conversed with each other up to three miles apart. Sometimes I even joined their conversation. This became a sacred time for me.
One of the most sacred events, for me, that has resulted from the global lockdown is how Mother Earth is healing herself from humankind’s abuse over the centuries. What an amazing sight it must be to see dolphins swimming in the canals of Venice! When people were constantly moving up and down the canals in motorboats and gondolas, the water was always mucky looking and dirty with pollution. Now it’s crystal clear. Animals are also coming back into areas of National Parks that are usually populated with people. This is Mother Earth’s Sacred time of healing. I hope we, as a global society, make the right changes in our existence to honor Mother Earth’s need to heal and stop abusing the only planet we live on – that we make a conscious effort to live into this sacred time of healing.
Sacred time can also be time spent with family and loved ones or in a time of deep conversation that is mutually spiritually fulfilling. Due to the Coronavirus, families are spending greater amounts of time together and often strengthening their relationships as a result. One family shared with me how the younger two of three children, ages 10 and 12, decided to have a family dinner outside like a picnic where they cooked and served dinner for the family. It was a little cool outside, but they had a great time, and created a meaningful memory – a sacred family time.
Sheltering in place creates a time space where people now look for things to keep themselves occupied. It can feel like the movie Groundhog’s Day, where for an unknown number of days, the main character, Phil, played by Bill Murray, relives the same day over and over. In time, he figured a way to make the best of this dilemma by learning how to do things he normally would not have had the time to do, like playing piano. In this same way, I see this as an opportune time to create sacred time, and even work on deep self-reflection to find those spiritual edges your soul is looking to expand.
Creating our own sacred time helps us spiritually, and mentally as we navigate these lifestyle changes forced upon us by the pandemic. Mental health is a great concern, because thinking about the past will bring depression, while focusing on the unknown of the future brings anxiety. Being in the present moment might make sense, but it is not in our nature, so we must work at it. Everyone needs their own mechanism to get through this time of minimal movement and near limited human interaction. I hope by contemplating sacred time, people find the spiritual growth and awareness to lessen the angst of sheltering in place.
I feel that one of the most sacred times in life is death. As our impermanent body comes to its last breath, our spirit is released to move into whatever dimension one’s faith believes. During that time before death, we are typically surrounded by loved ones. Once we have passed family and friends are able to grieve. Today this has all changed. The sacred time of being with one ready to cross over is not allowed with the Coronavirus. So how do we find that sacred time, and honor our loved ones as they are dying? How do we celebrate their life when we can’t gather to hug, cry and share stories together? Can a virtual gathering to honor and celebrate their life be enough for family and friends? Can it achieve the sense of being a sacred time? These are difficult questions to answer, perhaps one first step to reflect on what aspects of gathering together during times of loss make this time feel sacred.
From birth to death, and many times in between, we experience sacred times. Some of them are brought to us through life events, and moments that take our breath away. During this time of isolation and as we begin to go through the phases from sheltering in place to public gathering again, we should remember the importance of being connected with Creator through sacred time. It doesn’t matter if we create our own sacred time, or experience it by the grace of Creator. Sacred time reminds us of our fragility, and strength through Divine interconnection and spiritual awareness.
Consider the below prompts and discuss this blog post in our new forum space!
1. How has your perspective of sacred time changed since the pandemic; or has it?
2. Where do you find sacred time amongst the loss of life, and heartbroken families and healthcare workers since the pandemic started?
3. How will you change your lifestyle to promote Mother earth’s sacred time of healing?
Larry Larson has a Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership from the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University, which opened the opportunity for him to become a commissioned minister with Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Larry is also the editor and co-creator with Jeanette Larson of the Living Spirit Talk podcast found on YouTube. His catchline is: Living for the present in right relationship.