In a thought provoking paper entitled, Reflections on Sacred Experience and Sacred Science, Peter Reason wrote, “…I heard for the first time the challenge that we in the West had lost the feeling for sacredness, the ability to notice the sacredness of our world, and that we need to discover this anew if we are to learn from the traditions of Native Americans. One is entering a different world, a world that is again alive and enchanted, a world in which all sentient beings bring their gifts of teachings, and are thus worthy of honour. Such an animate world is akin to that inhabited by the alchemists, and can only be comprehended fully through a participatory consciousness.”
In this same paper Reason quotes the following from Morris Berman’s book, “The Re-enchantmant of the World:”
“The view of nature which predominated in the West down to the eve of the Scientific Revolution was that of an enchanted world. Rocks, trees, rivers, and clouds were all seen as wondrous, alive, and human beings felt at home in this environment. The cosmos, in short, was a place of belonging. A member of this cosmos was not an alienated observer of it but a direct participant in its drama….The story of the modern epoch, at least on the level of mind, is one of progressive disenchantment. From the sixteenth century on, mind has been progressively expunged from the phenomenal world… At least in theory…the “mechanical philosophy”… (is) the dominant mode of thinking. That mode can best be described as disenchantment, nonparticipation, for it insists on a rigid distinction between observer and observed. Scientific consciousness is alienated consciousness: there is no ecstatic merger with nature, but rather total separation from it…”
Reason points out that our disenchantment and disconnection from the natural world and from our own experience has led us to a kind of soul sickness and calls for a “re-sacralization of the world.” One way to do this, he suggests, is to follow theologian Matthew Fox’s advice to “…fall in love at least three times a day.”
And so today I fell in love with a puppy I met on my walk, rubbing my cheek against her silky soft fur, and laughing fully from my belly as she wiggled wildly and covered my face with kisses.
Later I witness the anguish and sorrow of a couple desperately attempting to find their way across a chasm that seems to grow wider and more dangerous with each moment – with each jagged heartbeat – and with each accusation. Finally, as they sit rigid and exhausted, I ask them to take just a few moments to listen for what else might lie silently beneath their fears, anger, frustration and betrayals. Softly at first, barely perceptible even, their breathing steadies and something indescribable begins to happen as the energy in the room shifts and remarkably (you would have had to have been there) and seemingly as if by magic we are each touched and even (I think) for a moment transfixed by the undeniable presence of a battered and weary but still living love.
After work I spoke with a friend whom I’ve known for over thirty years and as she shared with me a simple and yet oh so sweet story about her day, I allowed myself to savor her voice, her laughter, and her unique and wildly optimistic perspective, and I felt my love for her warm my heart and gentle my spirit.
And so, I have fallen in love at least three times today and I resolve to fall in love at least three times tomorrow as well. In doing so, I allow myself to be enchanted and to more fully embrace the sacred.