Can we define the sacred by how it looks?
What is sacred appears in various ways and in various places. However, we are inclined to equate sacred to only a church, holy water, or even to a beautiful choir singing a magnificent four-part harmony accompanied by a huge melodious pipe organ.
However, Jesuit Greg Boyle believes otherwise. In his book, Barking to the Choir, Father Boyle writes, “Nothing is outside the realm of sanctity, for the world is infused with God’s presence.” Then he adds these powerful words: “Holy is happening right before your eyes, even if we are hesitant to believe it.” Like Father Boyle, I have also come to believe this. Sacred arises in many small and distinct ways right before our eyes.
God considers things holy which we would not even recognize. God has better vision, or more imagination when it comes to finding the holy in his created world. Let me provide my example.
Timmy is a six-year-old who has an elaborate truck collection, which he alone can touch. He is adamant about this rule. No one goes near his trucks unless Timmy is present. Of all his many trucks, his made to look real red dodge truck is by far Timmy’s favorite. Timmy shines his aptly named Red Bull at least once a day, handling it with loving care.
It happens that Timmy’s best and dearest friend, Ricky, also six, is in the hospital recovering slowly from a car accident. Ricky cannot yet walk. His arms and legs are still bandaged, and he is not even able to eat ice cream or his other favorite foods. Ricky is Timmy’s fun-loving sidekick. They play together like brothers. He is likable, energetic, and makes Timmy laugh even when he doesn’t want to.
Recently, when Timmy entered Ricky’s room for the first time, Timmy didn’t know what to expect. When he saw Ricky’s bandaged altered looks and immovable condition, he didn’t know how to respond. Instead, Timmy started to tear up, seeing his best friend so motionless and quiet.
He wanted Ricky to know how he felt, but he didn’t know what to say or do. He wanted to tell him how he missed him and wished his playmate could come home with him right now.
Timmy had his dearest possession, Red Bull, under his arm. He lifted his shiny red truck towards Ricky and said, “Here take this. It can cheer you up! I want you to have it!” Everyone was shocked. Timmy placed it on the bed. Ricky knew exactly what this meant, and he placed his hand on the truck and nodded his head “Okay. Thanks, Timmy.”
Both families also knew what happened. Two friends just told each other how much they cared for one another. Timmy’s Red Bull said it all. And that’s how this sacred moment ended.
Human beings can find it difficult to recognize the holy as easily as God does. But even in the hearts of two six-year old’s, God dwells and makes his presence felt. For God nothing is outside the realm of sanctity, for the world is infused with God’s presence.
This is why God has no trouble seeing the sacred in Timmy’s compassionate gesture. He gave what he loved most to his special friend who needed a blessing right now. He gave him that blessing without counting the cost. Father Boyle adds, “We live in a world soaked in grace…” Ricky and Timmy today invite us to savor that grace just as they did!
Great opportunities to praise God are infrequent, but turning small acts into great acts of praise happen all the time.