How do you view the world around you?
What are some of the things you look for each day?
Where is the Sacred for you, and how can you define it?
I don’t often spend time reflecting on questions posed to me – particularly those in a face-to-face manner. A short time back, I was asked the above by a stranger who had puzzled out who I am in my online environment. As a podcaster (or podcatser as my mis-spelled business card states), I tend to field all kinds of questions from people wondering how I do this or do that in relation to my spiritual life. And to be completely honest, these are the hardest questions to field. I can handle questions about how and why I came to be on this Pagan Path, where I had been before, and the correlation between the two. But when folks start asking about techniques, spell-work, aspects of ritual — the answers don’t come nearly as quick or easily.
Much of what I do and practice as a Pagan is done impromptu. I have referred to my form of practice as “free-style Jazz Paganism” in the past, and its probably the most on-target descriptive of who I am. At work, I have stepped outside to the little gazebo by the duck-pond more than once — just to sit and watch the ducks, and to quietly speak my moments of reverence to Crow. I have also been known to mutter to myself in the hallways, but that’s just me puzzling out a way to get to data. Its a manner of three dimensional thinking – and a topic for another time.
The World Around Me – As Viewed From My Own Porthole
I see my environment as a living, breathing entity: where everything is inter-connected to create this unique moment in time and space. A moment that I cherish as unique, beautiful, and very fleeting. Each entity – animal, human, tree, rock – is its own creation, capable of thought and life on levels that I am likely to never comprehend fully. And as such, each entity deserves respect and honor for who they are. I have a bird bath in my backyard that provides a constant source of entertainment for my cats. For me, the cool water I place in the bird bath, along with the seeds and bread I scatter around it on the ground, is a way of giving to my feathered and furry companions (the neighborhood squirrels) that live around me. I watch their interactions and actions – amazed at the communication skills that they manage between one another.
I do the same thing at the local mall (when I go), sans the bird bath and the scattered food. I watch the verbal and non-verbal communication that people manage with one another. The lack of eye contact with people considered to be total strangers, the determined eye contact and ease of touch between friends and companions. The differences between the intimacy of two people versus the measured distance between those who know one another but do not seem to have that same level of intimacy. Those tiny threads of connection that most of us take for granted, until something happens to reinforce or completely sever them.
Its the manner in which we treat one another that I believe is at the core of the problems we face as the collective human race. Its a lack of understanding or even noticing these threads of connection that keep us from treating one another the same. We focus on skin pigmentation, hair color, height, weight, eye color, ideology — thing that truly do not matter when considering a fellow human being. And as we focus on these particular factors in determining who is a “stranger” and who is “close” to us, we lose sight of who we are: human beings. Yes, there are some human beings who care not about their fellow human beings – focusing on power, the collection of things, the collection of money – and then use those focal points to determine the value and worth of their fellow human beings. Not enough of these particular things – places you in one category. Having large quantities of these things, places you in another. Or we focus on how people differ from ourselves based on their religious beliefs, who we choose to love, or how many. And we condemn people based on these differences, when in the end we are all merely the same people. Or as Poximo states in the movie Gladiator: “We mortals are but shadows and dust. Shadows and dust, Maximus!”
Throughout the Day – I Spy With My Little Eye….As strange as this sounds, I see black birds of a variety of types. Over the last six years, no matter where I go – I find black birds flocking near me. There are two Crows at work that sit on the light stanchions at the edge of the parking lot and wait for me. Whenever I get out of my Forester in the morning, they caw at me. I have asked other folks at work if they have noticed the Crows, and they have stated that they do not. “Perhaps, its because they don’t caw?” I usually reply to them with a “good morning” as I walk to my building from the parking lot. And yes, I say that out loud – regardless of who is around. I am quite sure they believe me to be slightly tetched in the head, but I honestly don’t care. Grackles are the noisier of the black birds I tend to see — and usually when they come around in large numbers, I know that I am not following something I should be doing for Crow. Then its time to get back into meditation and figure out what I missed.
But the black birds are not the only thing I see throughout the day. As I mentioned before, I view the connections, the relationships that make things go. I watch how others treat one another. I will typically go through my day trying to seek out the one person that needs a word of encouragement, a smile, a touch of the shoulder — anything to remind them that there are people in the world that are kind, and do care. And to let them know that I have walked a mile or more in those moccasins too.
I sometimes really believe that our modern-day society needs to yank the plug on our computers, tablets, laptops, and phones — and just observe the world around them in silence. I’ll let this video scene from Babylon 5 explain why that is necessary, in my opinion.
The Sacred is All Around
I have had this particular question asked of me before. Where do I find the Sacred, how can I define that? There is simplicity in this answer, cloaked by complexity. The Sacred is all around us, all within us. The Universe is Sacred. Wherever we look, we can find the Scared. But defining it…. I only have one question for that in return: why would we want to define it? Once we place it into a little box, bounded by a strict definition, I have to wonder if what is being defined as Sacred can no longer adhere to that definition. To aid my final response, I again turn to J. Michael Stryzinski’s masterful Science Fiction TV show “Babylon 5” and the warrior/mystic G’kar for support.
Honestly, I have no “truth” for anyone else. I have my desire to explore the environment around me. This includes finding connections between myself and the Gods. I hold no animosity towards the Christian, Muslim, or Judaic faiths. In fact, when the followers of these faiths disagree with me, I accept the disagreement for what it is – a difference in perceiving the world around us, and realize that it comes from each of us being a unique individual that occupies a specific position in time and space. We are who we are, and we perceive and experience phenomenon differently. In turn, we interpret each experience differently as well. Its when we choose to impose our own understanding and experiences on to others – through “conversion”, “unwanted witnessing”, and just sheer force of violence – that’s when we break the trust we all hold in communication. Its when we create the walls of division – and find reasons to treat those who are different as “unworthy” or “incorrect” in experiences that are so uniquely individual. And its at this point, where we cease to treat one another with kindness. For me, this is the crucible where our social problems of today is born.