While allowing my mind to savor and roam through the idea of “Sacred Space,” several memories formed almost simultaneously. So much for roaming. . .
St. Meinrad Seminary. The first memory took place at St. Meinrad Catholic Seminary/Monastery in Southern Indiana. My good friend Joseph, who had been a student there, suddenly got a “hankering” (leading) to go to Sunday night mass, which was open to any interested person. It must have been in the middle of winter because it was very dark as we drove from Louisville, Kentucky, to rural southern Indiana. We arrived a few minutes before mass and began walking into the cathedral lit only by a few candles and a few lights on a raised platform where empty chairs were placed in rows. A density of peaceful silence and presence met us at the door. There were approximately six other people who had come for mass. We found our seats and began to sink into silence. As we sat, a side door opened and about 30 monks filed in, wearing simple brown robes. They seated themselves on the platform. Then, with no accompaniment or beginning note, they began to sing to God. They sang, filling the cathedral fully with praises and prayers in all simplicity and beauty. They left as quietly and seamlessly as they had come in, leaving us in silence.
Mammoth Cave. The next memory is different and the same. When I was in my 20s, a friend and I heard about the “Wild Man Cave Tour” of Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. Our youthful enthusiasm responded to the line, “Go where few have gone before.” So we scheduled ourselves for the next weekend. When we arrived and checked in, the woman registering us said, “You are really going to enjoy this!” I smiled knowingly, not understanding what she was talking about. Receiving our knee pads and helmets with headlights, my imagination began to roll. We met our guide and four other people in the opening of Mammoth Cave, looking like experienced spelunkers. For awhile we walked with other people who had no special equipment. We then split off to another path which was narrow, descending, full of boulders, and DARK. Slowly, we descended deeper and deeper, bending over to avoid the rock ceiling, climbing over large boulders down what mostly seemed like a path. I began to “hear” the depth of the SILENCE – first in my head, then in my chest, then in my belly. Then I heard/sensed something else. It was a “constancy” – an almost audible “sound.” I kept listening and realized that, along with my heartbeat, there was another sound. It, too, sounded like a heartbeat – quieter, slower, more powerful. I was overcome with gratitude for the welcoming of the earth, the Mother. I felt deeply, patiently held. We all stopped, turned off our head lamps, and listened to the alive silence of the earth.
Black Holes. The first time I heard about Black Holes in space, my attention turned on! These black holes open up at the “edge” of space and have in them the birthing of galaxies. There are explosions, fire, gases, darkness, blinding light a most powerful sacred creation of whole galaxies.
In this Mantra of Breath
Gift of Spirit Until we pass from this body.
— Patricia Timberlake