Highlights from 2014-15 columns: 3-12-2015

The Sacred and the Profane: Giving Meaning to Life Experiences

Last month I joined the Nashoba Valley Chorale. Two things motivated me to do this. First, I’ve wanted to sing more regularly. Second, Carmina Burana. They, we are singing Carmina Burana by Carl Orff! I remember the first time I ever listened to a recording of it. I was blown away. I’ve always thought I’d like to sing it, but little did I know just how complex it is. And I had no idea about its origins either: the text is from a medieval (circa 13th c.) manuscript of secular satire (songs, poems and prose) written by reform-minded clergy/students, and found in a Bavarian monastery in 1803.

Also on the program for the concert will be a piece by Ola Gjeilo “Dark Night of the Soul” – a setting of the poem by Saint John of the Cross, a 16th c. Spanish mystic, about the stages of the soul’s growth and transformation.

Both pieces are incredibly moving to me. Profane and sacred writings. But are they really not two sides of the same coin? Is it really possible to tease them apart? More and more, I think we are returning to an understanding that the secular and sacred are not separate ends of a dualistic reality that we live amidst. They are, instead, a finely woven fabric, each giving color and texture to the other.

The concert program will also include a children’s choir. I love that all three of these are on one program: children’s songs, the profane (Carmina Burana) and the sacred (Dark Night). Children have not yet learned to separate the sacred from the profane. The perception and perspective that children bring to adult lives is illuminating. I find that children, and those with a child-like sense of wonder, have a way of flipping on its head many of the concepts that adults have grown attached to. The presence of children and our engagement with them teach us to be open to Spirit wherever, whenever, and however it decides to show up.

Where does the sacred show up in your life? When does the ordinary and mundane take on meaning? How can the profane be made profound? What have you learned from the children in your lives?

Posted in Charlotte