A red-orange sky at sunset, an Oscar-winning movie, and a star-spangled banner sung before a basketball game: What do all these have in common? They’re all ordinary things that people commonly experience as very profound, and in some cases, sacred.
One recent experience came in the moments after The Book Thief concluded; I felt that reality was a wonderful dream, as I often do in the moments after an enveloping movie. Another came after watching a video about a suicide helpline worker. I felt my own aliveness, as if my heart expanded to those who are alien to vitality and belongingness.
I agree with Mercia Eliade inThe Sacred and The Profane that the experience of- and desire for- sacredness is universal. He says even nonreligious people have
privileged places, qualitatively different from all the others—a man’s birthplace, or the scenes of his first life, or certain places in the first foreign city he visited in his youth. Even for the most frankly nonreligious man, all these places still retain an exceptional, a unique quality; they are the “holy places” of his private universe
Some people are taken in by church services, others by the silence of a woodland forest. Still the message remains: we all crave people, places, or things that take in our entire being, melt away reality, remind us we’re truly human and make us feel like we really belong.
What are your recent unspeakable experiences? Has your thirst been quenched?