Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sacred Space

A while back, I had a blog called Sacred Space. The only reason I *don't* have that blog any more is because something aggravating happened with the code, and I never seem to have the spare time to ask a tech person, *again* to fix that for me. The reason that becomes relevant now is that I have been trying to write about Bishop Gene Robinson and why I immediately felt a connection to him once I started reading about him three years ago. And to to that, it would really help to be able to link to my introductory post on Sacred Space, which was written in June of 2005. And since I can no longer link to that online, I am reproducing it here...

I was raised Catholic, but was received into the Episcopal church a couple years ago. It's a long story, and there were a number of stops along the way. My husband describes himself as a Humanist--occasionally he says he belongs to the Church of the Restful Sabbath, and that he honors God by not pestering Him on His day off. Our son is a "Radical Secular Humanist" at least some of the time. Strangely, science buff that he is, he says he doesn't believe in God, but still claims to believe in Santa Claus. (Gotta think that's a strategic decision rather than one based on science and reason!) So it's just my daughter and myself who count ourselves as Christians.

When I was growing up, I'm sure this is not how I pictured my family's religious life, but it has provided me a great deal of insight. And while I was traveling my path from the Catholic church to the Episcopal church, (with stops along the way at Unitarian Universalist, Unity, and United Church of Christ churches) I also read a lot and talked to many different people. I ended up with a much clearer vision of What Really Matters, and how at their core, the major faith traditions agreed on this.

I have long admired the gentle wisdom of Fred Rogers. A couple years ago it occurred to me that I wanted to make sure I told him that while he was still with us in this physical world. I wrote him a letter, telling him that even when I was in high school, on the days I stayed home sick I liked to watch his program as "comfort television". I also told him (knowing that he was a minister) about my own spiritual journey, and how I felt I was being "called" to some sort of ministry (but as I hadn't settled on a denomination yet, the details were still a bit hazy to me.)

To my amazement and delight, I received a personal letter from Fred Rogers about a month later. He wrote that he was touched by the expression "comfort television", and also told me that there were many different kinds of ministry.

He included a copy of a sermon he had once given to that effect, and his letter also included the following words:

"The older I get, the more convinced I am that the space between communicating human beings can be hallowed ground."

This same theme can be seen in the words of Henry Schuster, CNN Senior Producer and longtime friend, in an article of appreciation following Fred Roger's death:

"Immediate and unconditional love. That was Fred's gift, especially to children: total attention, complete respect, immediate and unconditional love. The same Fred Roger's you met was who you saw on the screen. He told us how those few feet between the screen and where children were sitting, watching, was "sacred space", and he was passionate about the responsibility he had as a broadcaster."

And finally, I found this quote in The World According to Mr. Rogers: Important Things to Remember , a book that was compiled by Joanne Rogers after her husband's death:

"The more I think about it, the more I wonder if God and neighbor are somehow One. ‘Loving God, Loving neighbor' -- the same thing? For me, coming to recognize that God loves every neighbor is the ultimate appreciation!"

Many of the people in leadership positions in our country are anticipating the "rapture" . This goes a long way toward explaining their priorities. Why take care of this planet, or work to reduce the deficit, if you're expecting to be "beamed up" to a better place very soon?

To focus most of our energy and attention on the really great party we're hoping to go to after we finally leave this dump, in my mind, would be showing a profound lack of appreciation for the gifts we have been given. That's why I think we need to better care for the world and the global family we have right here. And we would probably be more inclined to do that if we got better at recognizing the sacred in each other and in the world around us.

I must admit I'm not always good at doing that. In fact, sometimes I am notoriously bad at that. I'm going to need some help staying on track, you know?

"We cannot be human alone. We can only be human together."

--Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Seattle address May 2002

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