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    Encountering the Sacred Part 2

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 11:45 PM [General]

    Sometimes the Sacred just breaks in and our daily lives take on the sort of special significance we usually think is reserved for heroes and saints.  And yet it is so ordinary that when one tries to dissect it there is nothing different from any other moment except that one has stood on holy ground! 

    I had the good fortune to experience such a moment today.  As a physical therapist I work with children and adults with significant physical and cognitive disabilities.  I have recently started seeing a young man 18 years old.  Joshua (I am not using his real name for reasons of confidentiality) weighs about 45 pounds.  He was born with a genetic disorder known as PMD, which results in extreme weakness and tight, spastic muscles that if left untreated will result in physical deformity.  Joshua is too weak to stand on his own and can not even keep his head and trunk up without some type of support.  Therefore, I must put him in a special body brace as well as a standing frame.  His mother and I strapped him in and tilted the stander to near vertical.  That's when the sacred encounter occured.  When I looked over at Joshua with his feet resting on blocks and his sagging trunk and outstretched arms, I was struck by how like Jesus hanging on the cross he seemed.  In fact, the two seemed indistinguishable at that moment.  

    This was for me a sacred encounter.  What struck me the most was that during this moment how stupid and irrelevant our divisions and dogmatic disputes were when all that really mattered was to ease Joshua's suffering.  I was priveledged to be able to help with this, and felt blessed.

     

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    Encountering the Sacred

    Sunday, July 12, 2009, 6:39 PM [General]

    I am always in awe of the multiple opportunities in our lives to encounter the Sacred.  We may encounter the Sacred in formal ways with disciplined approaches forged from the traditions and experiences of people who practiced the art of such encounters such as formal liturgy, prayer, meditation and initiation practices.  I am thinking here of my encounters with the Sacred at Mass, or during formal sitting and walking meditation. However, there is a whole other type of sacred encounter which happens spontaneously and is embedded in the fabric of our natural lives, where the Sacred emerges out of everyday activity, experience and relationships.  Such an encounter happened for me today.

    It happened at the beach.  My wife, four children and I were in Long Branch, New Jersey at an event called The Best Day.  My ten year old daughter Danielle has autism and was invited to participate at this event for children with disabilities and their families.  The children are introduced to surfing, kayaking, etc.  Volunteers take children with a variety of cognitive and physical disabilities out on surf boards and the kids get to experience the thrill of riding their boards right up onto the beach. Considerable care is taken to ensure safety with the volunteers riding along with each child and of course the use of appropriate safety equipment.  There was even a Coast Guard helicopter rescue demonstration where Spiderman (the real one, not just a guy in a costume) was hauled out of the water by a diver into the helicopter whirring above the waves.

    Danielle is unable to speak and usually communicates with a combination of signs and an electronic communication device where she constructs sentences by choosing picture icons and the machine talks for her.  It was not practical to have the device at the beach due to the likelihood of the sand and water damaging it beyond repair.  Today it didn't matter though because the smiles of sheer joy on Danielle's ecstatic face said it all.  My wife and I shared her joy too and I realized that this was as real an encounter with the Sacred as I had experienced.

    Dave

     

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

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